UPDATE: Officials said the search has been suspended for the rest of Monday by about 4 p.m. because significant weather is moving into the area and Georgia Power released more water out of the dam.
The search will resume tomorrow at 8 a.m.
COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL) – Crews were still searching the Chattahoochee River after a man drowned Sunday just below the Lake Oliver dam, officials said in a late morning news conference.
Officials said the victim was a 32-year-old Hispanic male. They said they he drowned while swimming with his brother. It is believed that a language barrier prevented the swimmers from understanding what the sirens meant.
The search continued this morning.
“We’ve got three boats in the water right now,” said Fire Battalion Chief Bryan Watson. “We have 4 divers down we’ve already cleared the area where the victim was last seen. We’ve cleared that area out. Georgia power was able to hold the water off of us last night while we were in here. Unfortunately, this is the river and the water has to be moved at some point in time. It’s was flowing.”
The river has a deceivingly swift current and the waters can be very dangerous. When the dam opens up it doesn’t matter, “how good a swimmer you’re not gonna swim it,” said Watson.
“Once you get in the water. You’re in the water,” said Watson. “It’s a thirty-minute minimal time for us to get to you, and by then it’s pretty much over.”
When asked about people swimming against the strong recommendations of safety officials Watson said, “There’s no law to keep anybody off of that stretch of water. We have kayakers that come down through there. We have fishermen that come down through there. They can Launch boats. And 90% of the time everything is fine. Those people general have the proper gear. Their doing what they’re supposed to do.”