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Bank president dies while on vacation

Prominent Lexington businessman and Fifth Third Bank President Sam Barnes has died while on vacation in Georgia.

Police say Barnes was swimming to a sandbar in St. Simons Island, Georgia when he went under. They say his wife yelled for help and a teen who was on the beach pulled him to shore.

Family members dispute that, and say Barnes was, in fact, standing on the shore watching his wife swim when he collapsed.

Crews took him to the hospital where he was pronounced dead just after noon today.

The coroner says it appears he had a heart attack but an official cause of death has not been released yet.

Barnes was in Georgia to attend his son's wedding, which was scheduled for this weekend.

Mayor Jim Newberry says Barnes made the new Fifth-Third Pavilion in Downtown Lexington possible through donations.

Newberry says Barnes was not only a good friend to him, but a friend to the city.

"Sam was a consummate gentleman," Newberry said. "He was truly a giant in the business community, and whenever you started making a list of people who could really get things done, he was on that list. He will be missed by all that knew him. Lexington is a lesser place."

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