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Recovery efforts underway to find body of swimmer in Chattahoochee River

Published: Jun. 7, 2021 at 7:21 PM EDT
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COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) - According to Battalion Chief Bryan Watson with Columbus Fire and EMS, two brothers were swimming in the Chattahoochee River Sunday night when things took an unexpected turn for the worse.

Watson says the two men were between J.R. Allen Parkway and a Georgia Power dam when sirens went off. Those sirens alerted people that water from the dam would be released soon and the river would rise.

Now, recovery efforts are underway on the river. Columbus Fire and EMS, Georgia Department of Natural Resources, and Georgia Power are working together to find the body of a 32-year-old swimmer.

“They were flowing about 9,000 CFMs last night at the time when we got the call, which is a rather high flow of water, and it becomes very swift at that point, and it doesn’t matter how good of a swimmer you are at that point. You’re not going to swim in that kind of water,” said Chief Watson. “They were swimming prior to them opening the gates, the sirens went off, but I think there’s a language barrier, I don’t think they knew what the sirens meant. As of right now, we have not located anybody. We will work as long as weather permits today.”

According to Sergeant Jeremy Bolen with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, this isn’t the first time something like this has happened.

“You have to respect the Chattahoochee River. We’ve worked way too many, over the course of my career. It’s dozens and dozens and it’s numerous ones every year” added Bolen. “I would encourage them to go to a swimming pool or go somewhere else to do those activities, but not to swim in this stretch of the river.”

Recovery team officials tell News Leader 9 that they will be there from sun up to sundown until they find the body of the swimmer.

No word on how long the search will actually take because divers can only see about 4 inches in front of them. They’re expected to be back out Tuesday morning and will provide an update around 10 a.m.

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