The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department, Arkansas Game and Fish, an Arkansas State Police helicopter, and several volunteers converged on Atkins Lake Thursday afternoon as reports of a possible drowning were called in to emergency responders.

Jefferson County Sheriff Lafayette Woods Jr. said his office received notification of a boater in distress at approximately 12:05 p.m.

“At approximately 12:05 p.m. our deputies received a call via dispatch regarding at boated that was in distress on Atkins Lake,” said Woods. “We did locate the boat but did not locate the boater in the boat. At that point in time knowing he was out there by himself we felt he had fallen into the water. We immediately dispatched our reserve unit, we called State Police to aid with their helicopter for aerial search to help cover a more broader area from the air, and also the Arkansas Game and Fish wish a similar sonar system to what we have that allows you to look into the water beyond what you can see from the surface.”

At approximately 6:50 p.m. Arkansas Game and Fish Commission officers located and recovered the body of the boater.

The boater has been identified as 65-year-old Billy Ray Williams. He was pronounced deceased by Jefferson County Deputy Coroner April Davis at 7:39 p.m.

“At approximately at 6:50 p.m. is when they located his body,” said Woods. “The body was identified as belonging to Billy Ray Williams who was 65 years of age, and he apparently he had succumbed to a drowning. The coroner pronounced him at the scene, then next of kin was notified.”

Woods said that no foul play is believed to be involved

“It is considered a drowning, and there does not appear to be any foul play at this time,” said Woods. “If that changes based on new evidence that comes in to the contrary we will be more than willing to investigate those new tips, but at this point there does not appear to be any foul play regarding the drowning.”

Billy Ray Williams