Sunday, December 10, 2023

Police identify Navy man who died while swimming in College Creek near Jamestown

Rescue personnel search for a swimmer who went missing in College Creek on Friday. (Bryan DeVasher/WYDaily)
Rescue personnel search for a swimmer who went missing in College Creek on Friday. (Bryan DeVasher/WYDaily)

The man who died in an apparent drowning while swimming with friends in College Creek near Jamestown was a Navy sailor assigned to the USS San Francisco, a submarine based at Naval Station Norfolk.

Walter James Torres Jr., 25, disappeared underwater shortly before 2:30 p.m. Friday while attempting to swim to a sandbar about 50 yards off shore, James City County Police said.

Torres’ body was recovered around 6:30 p.m. about 25 yards from where he went under, police said. While it appears Torres drowned, the medical examiner’s office will determine the exact cause of death, said James City County Police Deputy Chief Steve Rubino.

Responders from the National Park Service, Virginia Marine Police, the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, the York-Poquoson Sheriff’s Office, the York Fire Department, Newport News Police and James City County Police, Fire and EMS participated in the recovery effort, as did a helicopter from the Coast Guard, Rubino said.

College Creek has been the site of several drownings in recent years. Last year, Tony Garcia, 23, died when he was caught in a rip current while trying to swim to the sandbar.

A diver heads away from the water after searching for a man presumed drowned in College Creek on Friday. (Bryan DeVasher/WYDaily)

Maicoll Gomez, a William & Mary senior from Colombia, said he was playing soccer on the beach with friends when Torres disappeared. Gomez helped pulled two of the Torres’ friends from the water.

Gomez said there were 50 to 60 people on the beach at the time, but police and fire crews evacuated the area as the search began.

Gomez, who is a frequent visitor to the College Creek beach, said there should be more warnings about the dangerous current in the area. Although there are a number of warnings against entering the water posted in the vicinity of the beach, Gomez said too many people ignore them.

“I think this is devastating,” he said. “There should be more signs.”

(Courtesy of Google Maps)
(Courtesy of Google Maps)


John Mangalonzo
John Mangalonzo
John Mangalonzo ( is the managing editor of Local Voice Media’s Virginia papers – WYDaily (Williamsburg), Southside Daily (Virginia Beach) and HNNDaily (Hampton-Newport News). Before coming to Local Voice, John was the senior content editor of The Bellingham Herald, a McClatchy newspaper in Washington state. Previously, he served as city editor/content strategist for USA Today Network newsrooms in St. George and Cedar City, Utah. John started his professional journalism career shortly after graduating from Lyceum of The Philippines University in 1990. As a rookie reporter for a national newspaper in Manila that year, John was assigned to cover four of the most dangerous cities in Metro Manila. Later that year, John was transferred to cover the Philippine National Police and Armed Forces of the Philippines. He spent the latter part of 1990 to early 1992 embedded with troopers in the southern Philippines as they fought with communist rebels and Muslim extremists. His U.S. journalism career includes reporting and editing stints for newspapers and other media outlets in New York City, California, Texas, Iowa, Utah, Colorado and Washington state.

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