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Lawrenceville man drowns in Lake Lanier

LAWRENCEVILLE - A Lawrenceville father of six drowned over the weekend while swimming with his teenage son in Lake Lanier.

Randford L. Palmer and his 13-year-old son, Gean Toussaint, were swimming near Old Federal Campground off Jim Crow Road at 7:30 p.m. Saturday when Palmer apparently grew tired and vanished beneath the water. Divers from the Hall County Fire Department searched the area for several hours, but rescue efforts were called off after dark.

Palmer's body was recovered when the search resumed Sunday morning about 100 feet away from shore in 25 feet of water, said Maj. Jeff Strickland of the Hall County Sheriff's Office.

Palmer had been on a cabin cruiser boat with his friends when he and his son decided to go for a swim. Toussaint said it was his first outing with his father on the lake and they were enjoying the nice weather.

"He was a very good swimmer," Toussaint said. "To sum it all up, he got tired. By the time I got the life jacket to turn around to throw it to him, he drowned."

Palmer had insisted his son put on a life jacket before jumping in the water. It was typical of his desire to put others first, Toussaint said.

"He cared about everyone. He put everyone first," Toussaint said. "For instance, if he had to go do something and there was an emergency, he'll go straight to the person who needed help instead."

Palmer, who ran his own mechanic shop in Marietta, fathered six children - three boys and three girls ranging in age from 13 to 26. He was married to Pamela Palmer and was also an active member of All Nations Wesleyan Community Church in Decatur.

Funeral services were still being arranged on Monday, according to Palmer's daughter, Sheka Palmer.