Day 3 of water search for teens begins: 'It's a recovery, barring a miracle'

OCONEE COUNTY, Ga. — Authorities have begun day three of a search for two teenagers who vanished in the waters of a swollen creek in Oconee County.

For regular readers of this page we are thankful to have swift water recovery teams from Oconee County South Carolina...

Posted by Oconee County Georgia Sheriff's Office on Sunday, June 3, 2018

Crews suspended their search around 8 p.m. Saturday, thanking the many people and organizations that have helped so far to recover the teens.

Chief Deputy Lee Weems of the Oconee County Sheriff's Office said an 18-year-old was standing on a dam crossing Barber Creek when he either jumped or fell into the water about 3:45 p.m. Friday.

Weems said another 18-year-old man dove in to help him and neither surfaced.

The teens have been identified as Cameron Smith and Bryant Wade.

First responders ended their initial search Friday night and continued Saturday.


Chances of finding the young men alive seemed dim.

"It's going to be a recovery, not a rescue, barring a miracle,” Weems said.

In a Facebook post, the Sheriff's Office showed pictures of first responders from several agencies forming a human chain to search the water.

Madison County, Walton County and Rabun County swift water rescue teams are conducting a side by side walkdown of Barber Creek to the Middle Oconee river.

Posted by Oconee County Georgia Sheriff's Office on Saturday, June 2, 2018

In another post, they showed divers searching the water for the teens, something they couldn't do on Friday.

Cobb County divers have entered the water at the base of the dam.

Posted by Oconee County Georgia Sheriff's Office on Saturday, June 2, 2018

Wade's family told Channel 2 Action News they're hoping this tragedy can be a lesson to others.

"This is real. These kids need to pay attention to this and stay away from the rivers," said Roger Smart, Wade's grandfather.

The family also said they're asking for prayers.

Oconee County is in northeast Georgia near Athens. The creek flows into the Oconee River.

The area where the teens went into the water is private property. It's fenced off and patrolled by a security guard. Still, it's a known swimming spot for groups of teens.

Weems said recent heavy rains have raised its waters near flood stage.