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Officials to swimmers at High Falls State Park: 'Keep yourself out of the river... It's not safe'

Officials said it's becoming a common occurrence – crews braving the rapids to rescue swimmers who weren't supposed to be there in the first place.

MONROE COUNTY, Ga. — Emergency responders have strong words for swimmers they say are ignoring the warning signs at a popular state park, and putting themselves at risk.

"We're getting tired of pulling folks off the river," said Monroe County Emergency Management Agency Director Matt Perry. "We're getting tired of pulling folks off the falls."

Perry said it's becoming a common sight at High Falls State Park – crews braving the rapids to rescue swimmers who weren't supposed to be there in the first place.

RELATED | Two rescued from waterfall at High Falls State Park

Just hours ago, on Tuesday night, crews had to brave the rapids, swollen by days of heavy rains, to rescue two teenaged swimmers who waded into the water and got stuck.

The Georgia Department of Natural Resources told 11Alive's Macon affiliate WMAZ they planned to charge the two teens, but wouldn't say yet what the charges could be.

And it was last October when a 12-year-old Christian Burdette was died after slipping under the rapids. His 17-year-old brother James had to be airlifted to safety.

"He took a step and he went in. He said, 'I'm about to die,'" James told 11Alive right after the accident. "I said, 'No you're not.' Then I got sucked in. He went under."

READ | 17-year-old survivor of accident that killed brother: 'It just ripped me apart.'

11Alive's Ryan Kruger and Ron Jones both went to the state park after the young teen's death. Signs posted along a path clearly forbade visitors from getting into the water, but swimmers routinely ignore those signs and take the risk.

"A lot of young kids like to come swim, a lot of teenagers," said Tim Bryant, who often visits the park. "You'll see families down there too. I haven't been brave enough to jump in myself."

RELATED | Woman dies after falling at High Falls State Park

AND | State park where boy died claims several victims

A helicopter and a dive team had to be brought in to rescue the teens Tuesday night. Perry said he hopes it's the last time it ever happens.

"This is not rocket science. Keep yourself out of the river," he urged. "When it looks like this, it's not safe. You're gonna die. We've already had that happen in the last eight months, and I really don't want to do it again."

Unfortunately, the horror stories have done little to dissuade future risk-takers, leaving rescue crews to worry about the next time they'll have to jump into action to rescue someone's life, potentially risking their own.

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