COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - William Cook, 44, and three other people went for a swim on the Chattahoochee River Friday. They entered the water near the Bibb City Mill at the wooden bridge near Linden Point.
Cook's niece, Laura Gould tells News Leader 9, they were very familiar with that portion of the river. They noticed Cook was drifting away from the shallow water and yelled at him to come back.
According to Captain Brent Morris, Columbus Fire and EMS Dive Team, being aware of the drop-off points may not have been enough in this case.
"Obviously they were releasing water from Lake Oliver. Of course they can't hear the alarms when traffic is going on JR Allen. He was going on out and the water starts rising and it's too late. Apparently the currents got him and took him on out."
Morris says he helped search for Cook's body. He offers this advice for swimmers.
"If someone wants to go swimming, or get in the water, they should have a lifejacket. We strongly recommend that they don't get in the water anyway. It's not safe to get in the river, the river is very dangerous. Its place you should not swim at all."
Fishermen are just as equally at risk, adds Morris. "We have a lot of cases near the14th Street Bridge and the Eagle Ridge Dam; they go out on the rocks when the water gets down. They don't realize that it's coming back up and they try to cross and drown."
Morris says they found Cooks' body Saturday morning about 60 feet from where the group started swimming.