Authorities search for two Atlanta artists confirmed missing off a Tybee Island sandbar. The bodies of Kiwan Benson and Montell Newton were recovered by Wednesday night.
Photo: City of Tybee Island
Photo: City of Tybee Island

Tybee Island drowning victims were active in Atlanta’s music scene

Two people who drowned off Tybee Island were active in Atlanta’s art and music communities.

The bodies of Montell Newton, 24, and Kiwan Benson, 31, were recovered Wednesday, two days after the pair disappeared from a sandbar at the south end of the island.

“On behalf of the entire Tybee community, I would like to express our deepest condolences to the families of Kiwan Benson and Montell Newton,” Mayor Jason Buelterman said Thursday in a statement. “... This is a horrific tragedy for their families but I hope the fact that so many of the residents of our community are thinking about you and praying for you offers some small amount of comfort.”

Benson played with local bands, according to reports. Newton, a singer and musician, went by the stage name MonteQarlo.

The artists were confirmed missing about 7:15 p.m. Monday, setting off a search that involved multiple local agencies and the U.S. Coast Guard boat and helicopter teams. The first body was pulled from the water about 10 a.m. Wednesday. 

RELATED: Atlanta artist’s body recovered off Tybee Island; search for another continues

That night, a kite surfer reported seeing something near the sandbar about 7:30 p.m., leading authorities to focus their search in the area. That’s when the second body was found.

City officials put out a statement warning people to stay off the sandbar.

"It looks like an easy walk, but the tide will turn well before you reach the other side,” officials warned. “Once the tide changes, within minutes, the current will take you down.”


Buelterman said the city will continue to take steps to avoid such tragedies in the future. 

“Unfortunately, the hazard is a naturally-occurring phenomenon which varies with winds and tides,” he said. “We must do all we can to inform those not familiar with the area of the dangerous situations which can occur so we can avoid the loss of life.”

Both bodies have been released to the Chatham County coroner, officials said. 

In other news: 

Anyone with information about the killing is asked to contact Atlanta police detectives.

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