FISHERMAN DROWNS IN CHATTAHOOCHEE
(Duluth, Ga. August 4, 2017) – Firefighters responded on Friday, August 4, 2017 at 4:58 p.m., to a report of a man unaccounted for in the Chattahoochee River at Medlock Bridge Park in unincorporated Duluth. Swift Water Rescue teams from Gwinnett Fire and Johns Creek Fire, as well as a helicopter from the Gwinnett County Police Department converged on the river. U.S. Park Service (Law Enforcement) Rangers also responded to the scene.
Firefighters on the shore began a hasty search from the riverbank as rescue boats searched on the water from the last-known location pinpointed by witnesses. The police helicopter was able to locate the body from the air and directed the Johns Creek rescue boat to his position beneath the surface of the water at about 5:40 p.m. Firefighters used pike poles and a rescue swimmer in the water to recover the lifeless victim. He was found in about 10 feet of water. Rescuers on the boat initiated advanced life support measures, but were discontinued at the scene per medical direction based on downtime, obvious trauma and no viable signs of life.
The man was at the river with his two brothers fishing when he reportedly entered the water to free a tangled fishing line. He waded out to a rock and was swept away by the swift current as he tried to cross back to the riverbank. Witnesses said that he went under and never resurfaced. Water generation from Buford Dam was occurring at the time, and the current and water level were increased at Medlock Bridge. The temperature of the water is estimated to be in the 50 degree mark year-round.
The victim was turned over to the Gwinnett Medical Examiner’s Office for positive identification and cause of death determination. The name of the victim has not yet been released by officials, pending notification of extended family. This is a very tragic incident, and our thoughts and prayers go out to the family and friends.
Firefighters are reminding river patrons to check the generation schedule at Buford Dam and avoid being on the river during generation times and until the water level recedes. Be sure to read the posted warnings and stay alert to the changing river conditions. Wear a life jacket, especially if you don’t know how to swim. The river can quickly change from tranquil to turbulent and catch anyone unsuspecting off guard.
For information on the victim’s identity, please contact the U.S. Park Service (Law Enforcement) Rangers or the Gwinnett County Medical Examiner’s Office.