JOHNS CREEK, Ga. - Swift water rescue teams scrambled to launch on the
fast-moving Chattahoochee River late Thursday morning after it was reported that an older man fell off a boat while fishing with a buddy.
"I believe they hit a submerged tree in the river and he looked back and his passenger was gone," said Capt. Tommy Rutledge of the Gwinnett County Fire Department. "The individual was not wearing a life jacket and not able to swim."
And it couldn't have happened at a worse time. The man was reported missing around 11:15 a.m., not long after a power generation water release from the Buford Dam at Lake Lanier.
"We estimate the water to be anywhere from 8 to 11 feet higher than it normally is. We anticipate it's moving 5 to 10 mph, so a very swift current," Rutledge said about the water. "The water temperature can be anywhere from 47-51 degrees. Hypotheremia can set in very quickly, can affect a person's motor skills, so if you're in trouble in the water, you don't have a lot of time."
The firefighters and others involved in the search had hope for an upbeat ending to it all. But after roughly two hours, that was not to be.
"He was located just north of the old Jones Bridge structure, river left, by a search team. Right now no signs of life by the individual," Rutledge said.