Firefighters talk about saving couple from Chattahoochee

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JOHNS CREEK, Ga. - Firefighters who saved a couple from the Chattahoochee River spoke to Channel 2 Action News about the dramatic rescue this weekend.

Channel 2’s Liz Artz met the Swift Water Rescue Team Sunday at Fire Station 61in Johns Creek.

News Chopper 2 brought live footage of Thursday’s rescue on Channel 2 Action News at 4.  A man and a woman, in their early 20’s, became stranded on the river near Jones Bridge Park. The usually serene water was choppy, moving swiftly and higher than usual because of water being released from Buford Dam, authorities said.

“They could have easily been swept away by the water," said Johns Creek Fire Capt. Jeff Johansen.

The woman remained in the swamped boat. Her boyfriend, waist-deep in water, was hanging on to the raft's handles.

"It could have been a deadly situation," Johansen said.

Johansen was behind the wheel of the boat during the rescue. Firefighters Heath Powers and Josh Cater pulled the stranded couple to safety.

"I told Josh to hold me and then I reached over and pulled (the couple) over onto the boat," said Powers.

Powers said the Chattahoochee is 55 degrees year-round and their main objective was to get everyone out of the water and keep them out.

“You tend to seize up and not move, which is something you don't want to do in water," Powers said.

A life-saving move might have been that the couple was able to stay with their raft and not let go.

“(There) were a lot of rocks. Anything could have happened. They could have gotten their foot stuck. That could have pushed them in the water, hit their heads. There was potential for a lot of dangerous things to happen," said Cater.

The Gwinnett County Sheriff’s Office pulled a third man to safety who was trying to help the couple.

The Swift Water Rescue Team has made about 12 water rescues this year. They made 37 rescues in 2011.


Channel 2 Action News

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