OCONEE COUNTY, Ga. — Two local teens have vanished in an Oconee County creek and now emergency officials say the rescue effort has turned into a recovery effort.
The 18-year-olds disappeared after they went into Barber Creek near a dam and never came back up.
Emergency officials said one of the teens jumped in to try and save the other. Neither one of them resurfaced.
The latest on the recovery effort for the teens, RIGHT NOW on Channel 2 Action News Saturday AM.
"It's a really empty, this is an empty feeling," said Roger Smart. Smart is the grandfather of Byrant Wade, one of the teens who disappeared in the water Friday afternoon. "He and some friends decided to go swimming down here and, unfortunately, it's turned out bad for us."
Oconee County Chief Deputy Lee Weems told Channel 2's Carl Willis that Wade fell from a dam into Barber Creek shortly before 4 p.m. and never resurfaced.
The dam is on private property and is fenced off, but teens can still get to the water and a beach area nearby.
Smart had a plea for other teens who may go there.
“If you're going to swim, go to the beaches, go to the lakes, go somewhere where you've got your lifeguards. Be safe about it," Smart said.
Authorities say the water in Barber Creek is anything but safe after the recent rainfall.
"The creek is at flood stage. The water is very swift. It's very high. We subsequently learned that another 18-year-old male from a different group went in and tried to save the first 18-year-old and he has not come out of the water yet," Weems told Willis.
"The other young man is heroic. I'm just at a loss for words for the other family," Smart said.
Weems shared a picture with Willis that shows a third victim, whom he had to go in and rescue. She is a security guard who got in trouble in the water while trying to save the teens.
As the rescue shifts to a recovery, Wade's heartbroken family said it is leaning on its faith.
"We want to ask, ‘Why me, God? Why this?’ But it's in God's hands,” Smart said. “This is really real, and these kids need to pay attention to this. Stay away from the rivers.”
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