Two boys dead after drowning in Chattahoochee River

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Lindsey Connell

WTVM News Reporter

May 3, 2008

COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM)-  The Chattahoochee River claimed the lives of two young children who went swimming underwater and never came up.

Rescuers pulled the bodies of eight year old Arturio Rozier and his brother, nine year old Alijah Rozier from the Chattahoochee.

The boys were swimming there with another child, when they both disappeared underwater for 45 minutes.

It happened around 2:30 Saturday afternoon at the South Columbus Water Resource Facility on South Lumpkin Road.

Charles Tolbert was fishing along the river and saw the three boys playing by the water. When he heard splashing, he thought the boys were just throwing rocks in the water but then he saw them swimming. That's when things went horribly wrong.

"I saw their hands go up in the air and the little kid that was out there, he was still in the water. He said grab my hand I'll save you and I saw both the kids go down. That's when I dropped my poles and I ran down there," said Tolbert.

With one child safe and two still in the water, Tolbert called 911 and emergency responders rushed to the secluded location.

Boats scoured the water's surface and the river banks as divers searched below the water.

Divers found the two children not far from the shore and crews began resuscitation immediately.  The waters there are off limits to swimmers.

"By the time we got here, it was about thirty minutes in the water and we found them in about fifteen minutes and got both kids out. The Chattahoochee has strong currents, a lot of rocks, a lot of drop offs on there so the rocks are very slippery," said Captain Jerome Rayford of Columbus Fire and EMS.

As for Charles Tolbert, he is glad he was in the right place at the right time.

"I just hate that it happened but I'm glad I came out here. My wife told me to come out here. I usually go on post and fish but she told me to come out here to the water plant and fish and good thing I did," he added.

The boys bodies have been sent to the state's crime lab for autopsies, and the official cause of death will not be determined until then.

Stayed tuned to WTVM for the latest information in this developing story.