Off-duty Lawrenceville police officer drowns in Lake Lanier

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FORSYTH COUNTY, Ga. - Lawrenceville police confirmed one of their own drowned in Lake Lanier Thursday night.

Forsyth County divers recovered the body of Officer Canon Callender around 7 p.m., a spokesman for the Georgia Department of Natural Resources said.

"Whenever you're around the lake, wear a life jacket. I have never seen a drowning victim that was actually wearing a life jacket," Corporal Jason Roberson said.

Daylight helped the search and recovery for Callender, who witnesses said hollered for help before he slid beneath the water's surface.
 
“He went under and didn't come back until he was recovered,” said Cpl. Eric Sanders, with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources.
 
Captain Greg Vaughn said the 35-year-old was off-duty at the time of the drowning, possibly swimming to an island to meet up with friends.

Nick Baggett with the Army Corps of Engineers measured the swimming distance at 150 yards.

"No matter how good your training is, no matter how much experience you have on the water, it just goes to show that it can happen to anybody," boater Joel Quinn said.

Lake Lanier’s water temperature near the boat ramp in Little Ridge Park was 84 degrees and clear, with no current at the time of the accident.

Baggett was there when Callender was pulled from the water.

“Don’t swim alone, learn how to swim before you come. Don’t take chances. We encourage people to only swim in designated areas,” Baggett said.

Divers found Callender 35 feet from shore and in water 10 feet deep.
 
“It was just an unfortunate lake drowning,” Sanders said.
 
Sanders said it could have been prevented if the man had been with a buddy or had been wearing a life vest.
 
Vaughn said Callender had been with the police department for roughly four years. He described Callender as a “great guy.”