5-year-old girl drowns at South Holston Lake

By Abby Morris
Star Staff
amorris@starhq.com

   BRISTOL, Tenn. -- An outing with family and friends at a local lake turned deadly on Tuesday night when a young girl drowned after being swept away from her family by an undercurrent.
   Amber Cheynee Royston, age five, died later that night at a local hospital as a result of the incident.
   According to reports from the Sullivan County Sheriff's Department, Amber had been at the Painter Creek Boat Dock, located on South Holston Lake, with her mother, Tammy Royston, of 238 Basham Hill Road, Bristol, other family members and friends.
   Lt. Lisa Christian with the Sullivan County Sheriff's Department stated that the child was riding on the back of one of the adults in the group as they crossed a portion of one of the roads which was covered by water.
   "The undercurrent knocked them down and the child went down and was later retrieved, but stayed under the water for several minutes," Christian said. "They (individuals at the scene) said that one man jumped in and found her and pulled her out and then another adult performed CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) on her."
   According to reports, individuals at the scene performed CPR on the young girl until rescue workers from the Hickory Tree Rescue Squad arrived on the scene where they continued CPR and treatment.
   Rescue personnel discovered a faint pulse and called Wings Air Rescue. The child was then airlifted to the Johnson City Medical Center Hospital, where she later died.
   According to Christian, the road the group was walking on is located near the edge of South Holston Lake. "South Holston is a TVA (Tennessee Valley Authority) lake. When the water is high, it's my understanding that it is not uncommon for water to be on that road," she said. "They keep a sign there that says to watch for water in the road.
   "The lake was apparently up higher than it usually is, probably because of all of this rain that we've had."