May 21st, 2020 – 2:00 PM
WEIS Radio –
(Via a WEIS Radio News Report – Interview Photo from WEIS Radio) The Body of 19 Year Georgia Drowning Victim was Recovered from Little River Canyon National Preserve on Thursday morning.
According to Park Public Information Officer Pat Switzer of Little River Canyon National Preserve, Tuesday around 2:15 PM they received a report of a swimmer who went under the water but did not resurface.
Multiple agencies arrived to the scene to perform an emergency search and rescue attempt, (including divers from Fisher Rescue) but the river conditions proved to be too strong.
According to Switzer, the river current in the area appeared to be very rough, especially under the falls (around 2000 cubic feet per second). Also, Due to previous storm conditions the water was very murky, making low visibility conditions for the search and rescue divers.
Because of the river conditions, the search was suspended on Tuesday around 5:30 PM.
On Thursday morning divers evaluated the water current and decided that the conditions were good to try another recovery attempt.
The divers were then able to locate the body of the 19 year old swimmer within 10 minutes.
The name of the victim has yet to be officially released, but Switzer did say that the 19-year-old was a male from Cobb County.
Officer Switzer said the Park was indeed open at the time the tragedy occurred, however he said that warning signs were present in the area, and stressed the dangers of swimming in the swift currents.
(Update)- Little River Canyon National Preserve made the following official statement on their Facebook:
“Little River Falls and Little Falls re-opened after swimmer drowning below Little River Falls.
On the afternoon of Tuesday, May 19, 2020, around 2:15 PM, a 21-year-old female and a 19-year-old male, both from Cobb County, Georgia, were swimming in the swift waters in the pool beneath Little River Falls. Both individuals became caught up in the current; the female was able to escape, but the male did not resurface. First responders were immediately dispatched and on-scene within minutes and a search and rescue operation was initiated.
National Park Service rangers, Fischer Rescue Squad, Fort Payne Fire Department, DeKalb County Sheriff Office, Cherokee County Sheriff Office, Cherokee County Rescue Squad, Cherokee County Emergency Management Agency, Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA) State Troopers, ALEA Aviation, ALEA Game and Fish Law Enforcement, Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency Law Enforcement, Cherokee County Coroner’s Office, and DeKalb Ambulance Service all responded to the scene for the rescue and recovery.
On Tuesday, May 19, 2020, above-average flows on the river from recent storms, with associated low-visibility in the water, created circumstances which made it impossible for Fischer Rescue Squad divers to locate the victim in the area he was believed to be, and approaching nightfall caused the rescue attempt to be suspended until the following day. A foot search along the river below the falls, coupled with an aerial search conducted by an ALEA Aviation helicopter, eliminated the possibility that the victim may have been down-river of his expected location.
Unsafe diving conditions persisted on Wednesday, May 20, 2020. Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency delivered and operated an underwater remote operated vehicle to continue the underwater search without risking additional personnel. Strong and unstable currents proved too powerful even for the vehicle and the attempt to locate the victim was once again suspended for the evening.
River conditions let up enough for continued dive attempts by the morning of Thursday, May 21, 2020. The victim was located and recovered by Fischer Rescue Squad divers at 8:50 AM and extracted from the canyon by Fischer Rescue Squad and Fort Payne Fire Department. The victim was turned over to the Cherokee County Coroner’s Office at 10:30 AM.
Our hearts and our sorrow are with the family of the victim.”