Body of 14-year-old drowning victim pulled from river - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Body of 14-year-old drowning victim pulled from river

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) -

Rescue teams have recovered the body of a 14-year-old boy who went down in the Chattahoochee River near the Columbus RiverWalk around 5:30 p.m. on Saturday, July 26.

Soon after he went down, a team of seven divers and three rescuers came out to start the search.

Sobs filled the air late Saturday evening after a family day of swimming in the Chattahoochee River turned deadly.

Ed Harrison tried to rescue the teen. He explains, "There was a young black male, and his sister, and they were swimming, and obviously the boy couldn't swim very well, which we didn't know that. And he started to get sucked under the current."

Columbus Fire and Rescue says the call came in just after 5:40 p.m. about the boy being in the water. But before they could get there, Harrison says he swam out to search for the teenager. And what happened next he tells me will haunt him and his young son forever.

"We were all looking for him, waiting for him to surface so we could get him and he never did," Harrison adds.

Divers hit the water minutes before 6 p.m. After a nearly three and a half hour search, the body of 14-year-old Justin Thomas was pulled from the Chattahoochee River. Muscogee County Coroner Buddy Bryan was called in to break the heart-wrenching news to Thomas's already mourning family.

Bryan says, "I'd like the citizens of Columbus to keep this family in their prayers. We've had an accidental drowning here on the Chattahoochee here behind the Columbus State University building right off the RiverWalk."

It's an end results that onlookers like Harrison call unrealistic.

Harrison adds, "It was very surreal. You know, you hear about it happening, you know, but to be there in that moment..."

Now sadly, Thomas' body was found at approximately 8:38 p.m. inside the river, just 80 yards from where his body disappeared into the current. His body will be sent to the GBI crime lab for autopsy.

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