GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. – Authorities now confirm a drowning death on the Chattahoochee River, Friday, began as an outing between brothers.
Captain Tommy Rutledge with Gwinnett Fire said members of his department and Johns Creek Fire were called out to Medlock Bridge Park around 5 p.m. Firefighters used pike poles and a rescue swimmer to search for the victim. Crews searched in the water and along the river banks based on reports from witnesses.
Sadly, a police helicopter spotted the victim's body in 10 feet of water. Though rescuers on the rescue boat attempted advanced life-support measures, those were discontinued, with medical personnel citing time underwater, obvious trauma and a lack of vital signs.
According to Captain Rutledge, the victim was at the river with his two brothers fishing when he reportedly entered the water to free a tangled fishing line. He waded out to a rock and was swept away by the current as he tried to return back to the river bank. But he never resurfaced.
"Water generation from Buford Dam was occurring at the time and the current and water level were increased at Medlock Bridge," Rutledge said in a written statement. "The temperature of the water is estimated to be in the 50-degree mark year-round."
The body has since been turned over to the Gwinnett Medical Examiner's Office for positive identification and the official cause of death. Authorities said they are withholding the name of the victim pending notification of extended family.
Fire officials are reminding river-goers to check the generation schedule at Buford Dam and avoid being on the river during those times. They also urge people enjoying the water to read posted warnings and always wear a life vest when on the water.