06/29/2003

Conservation Enforcement Officer Dies

Officer Down: Lance Horner - [Grove Hill, Alabama]

A game warden attempting to help his colleague drowned June 22 when churning currents at Coffeeville Lock and Dam capsized his boat and sucked him down, officials said.

James Lanceford "Lance" Horner, 32, drowned around 11:20 am, said Capt. Michael Patrick with the Alabama Marine Police. No one else was injured.

Horner had been a game warden for more than five years, Patrick said.

Another game officer, Sgt. Steve James, and an intern, Ira Hobson, were on routine patrol in the river above the dam when their engine became disabled, said Patrick. Their boat drifted to the wall of the dam, and James called Horner for help.

Horner arrived about 45 minutes later and was trying to throw the stranded boaters a line when apparently the thrust of his motor opened the hydraulics, the churning currents beneath the surface.

Horner's boat capsized within a second; he was sucked under, went through the floodgate and under the dam, said Patrick.

Horner was wearing a lifejacket at the time, Patrick said, but "the power of that water is just unbelievable." Patrick said the water was at flood stage.

Horner, a married father of a young baby boy, was always willing to help and work extra hours, Patrick said.

Horner was "a fine young man" who "lived to be a game warden," Patrick said.

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