Oklahoma, Arkansas men drown in weekend incidents

Jimmie Ray Barnett, 21, of Locust Grove, drowned at Lake Gibson just before midnight Friday. Michael P. Wheaton Sr., 42, of Gentry, Ark., drowned in the Illinois River Saturday evening, authorities said.
FROM STAFF REPORTS Published: July 2, 2012
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The bodies of two men have been recovered after drownings over the weekend, authorities said.

Jimmie Ray Barnett, 21, Locust Grove

Just before midnight Friday, Barnett jumped from a pontoon boat into Fort Gibson Lake east of Fun Island. He tried to climb back aboard the boat, but submerged and was not seen again, according to the Oklahoma Highway Patrol.

Troopers searched for Barnett's body through the weekend. About 11:30 p.m. Sunday, it resurfaced and was spotted by family friends who stayed at the lake to search, according to a patrol report.

Barnett was not wearing a life jacket.

Michael P. Wheaton Sr., 42, Gentry, Ark.

On Saturday evening, Wheaton was sitting in a stream bank of the Illinois River, just north of Watts, while his 7-year-old daughter was wading in the river. She stepped into an area of deeper water and called for help. Wheaton was able to get his daughter to safety, but began to have trouble. He was pulled from the water and taken via pickup to an Arkansas hospital, Oklahoma Scenic Rivers Commission Administrator Ed Fite said.

Wheaton died at the hospital. He was not wearing a life jacket.

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