Harrison County

Update: Drowning death near Island View Casino ruled accidental

TIM ISBELL/SUN HERALD 
 The side of Island View Casino Resort's Beach Tower in Gulfport is used as a canvas for a free nightly light show.
TIM ISBELL/SUN HERALD The side of Island View Casino Resort's Beach Tower in Gulfport is used as a canvas for a free nightly light show. SUN HERALD

GULFPORT -- The city's Fire Department dive team recovered the body of James Lewis, 49, of Gulfport, who dove into the Mississippi Sound early Sunday evening in front of the Island View Casino.

Fire Chief Mike Beyerstedt told the Sun Herald witnesses saw Lewis dive into the water near the small towers near the harbor that are in front of the hotel and casino. They said he did not come up.

The dive team -- assisted by the state Department of Marine Resources and the Coast Guard -- recovered his body around 6:30 p.m., after searching for a little more than an hour.

Beyerstedt said they found him underwater.

He was not a guest at the hotel, Beyerstedt said.

Beyerstedt said the water drops off pretty quickly in that area near the harbor.

"It gets deep and the water we found him in was over his head," he said. "It's an area where boats are supposed to be."

Lewis' death was ruled an accidental drowning, according to the coroner.

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