Dramatic video shows Gwinnett crews rescuing 10 children, man from river rapids

Channel 2's Alyssa Hyman reports.

Gwinnett firefighters and officers rushed to rescue 11 people who were trapped in the Alcovy River on Saturday afternoon.

The Gwinnett Fire Department shared video of the dramatic rescue with Channel 2 Action News. 

Crews were called to the river at Freemans Mill Park around 4:52 p.m. in Lawrenceville after a woman called 911. They spotted 10 children and a man in immediate danger in the water.

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"The river was rain-swollen due to a recent thunderstorm, which created treacherous rapids and swift current conditions," Capt. Tommy Rutledge said.


Firefighters immediately rushed to rescue a child who was in danger of dropping 10 feet into the water. Two firefighters were able to tie themselves to a rope and bring the child back to safety.

Crews used rope rescue bags and downriver safety points to rescue the rest of the group.

No obvious injuries were reported, but the group was taken to a local hospital for further evaulation.

"This was a successful river rescue operation by multiple units at the scene. The brave actions of the firefighters kept the situation from becoming a tragedy for the families involved," Rutledge said.

The department says the group had gathered for a family picnic near the edge of the river. There are signs posted in the area warning people not to enter the water.

On Sunday, police cracked down on people at the park.

"What happened yesterday is people weren't obeying the signs. It a violation of county ordinance making it in this case a citable offense," said Jacob Albright, with the Gwinnett Police Department.

Overall, only about three people were cited and about 20 got verbal warnings.

The point, police said, is not about the fines and court costs, but rather safety and education.

"We were very fortunate in that we were able to rescue everyone that was stranded but that's not always the case," Albright said.