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Four pulled from river in two rescues
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Forsyth County News
Four people were successfully rescued in two separate incidents last week on the Chattahoochee River in Forsyth County.

Capt. Jason Shivers, spokesman for the Forsyth County Fire Department, said the Swift Water Rescue Team from fire station 15 was called in as well as other fire department personnel to bring the people to safety.

Thursday afternoon, a husband and wife in separate kayaks found themselves in the water after their vessels overturned about a half a mile south of the Hwy. 20 bridge, Shivers said.

That rescue followed a Monday afternoon incident in which two canoeists were pulled from the river after their vessel also overturned.

Shivers said the kayaking incident began Thursday when the couple’s boat overturned. The husband was swept up by the current and pinned against a stump.

“The force of the current pushed the kayak against him, which pushed him against the stump,” Shivers said.

Shivers said the man freed himself. Then the couple, whose names have not been released, floated downstream, where they reached a bank and grabbed onto tree limbs. Shivers said they were both wearing flotation devices.

“They stayed in shallow water until fire personnel arrived,” he said.

The woman was able to cal 911 from her cell phone, Shivers said, and it took rescuers about 90 minutes to reach the couple.

“That’s typical of those types of rescues because of the secluded areas,” Shivers said.

The couple was taken to the Gwinnett County side of Settles Bridge Park where an ambulance was waiting.

Shivers said it appeared the man suffered a few broken ribs caused by the force of the kayak hitting him.

The couple also showed early signs of hypothermia caused by the cold temperatures of the water below Buford Dam, Shivers said.

In the Monday incident, Shivers said the unnamed canoeists, one adult male and one juvenile male, were separated from the boat and found near the Hwy. 20 bridge.

“They did grasp and reach for tree limbs a couple of times, but the current kept pulling them away,” Shivers said.

“They were with family and friends in other canoes that saw them get turned out of their canoe. They got to shore and called 911 and that’s how we got involved.”

The river’s current pulled the two downstream, he said. After rescuers found the men, they were returned to their family near the old Settles Bridge where a command post had been set up.

Shivers said the rescue was made quickly enough that the men did not develop hypothermia and were not injured. He said the canoeists were both wearing life vests.

Shivers cautioned aquatic recreation enthusiasts about the river.

“The fire department urges everyone to wear life preservers around water,” he said. “Also, when you hear horns sound on the Chattahoochee, get out of the river.”

Shivers said the horns indicate that Buford Dam is about to begin power production.

He also said water rescues are not rare.

“It’s not common as in daily,” he said. “But it’s certainly not unusual. It’s a very active part of the river and our team gets plenty of practice performing these kinds of rescues.”