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Man hurt after fall near river rescued

FORSYTH - A fisherman was rescued Thursday from an area near the Chattahoochee River.

The Gwinnett County Fire Department's Swiftwater Rescue Team along with Forsyth County firefighters pulled the man from the area after he slipped and fell near the river's edge shortly before noon, injuring his leg.

Forsyth County Fire Department spokesman Capt. Jason Shivers said the 31-year-old man, whose name could not be released by firefighters due to privacy laws, fell approximately 15 feet into a ditch in an area about half a mile south of Buford Dam in Forsyth County.

"He broke his right ankle and aside from the trauma of the fall, he was conscious and alert," Shivers said. "He was able to call 911 on his cell phone. The call came to Forsyth County and he spoke briefly with dispatch but was disconnected - the reception out there on the river's not that good - but we used the GPS signal from the cell phone to provide a general area."

Shivers said responding firefighters walked the banks of the river calling out for the man.

"Firefighters walked the banks of the area basically just yelling for him, using good old-fashioned communication back and forth they were able to find him," Shivers said.

Shivers said the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was contacted to release water through the Buford Dam, just south of where the man had fallen, bringing the water level up about 2 feet from its current level, allowing Gwinnett and Forsyth county firefighters to float the man in a boat upstream to a waiting ambulance.

"(Today) was a great example of interagency cooperation: the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Gwinnett Fire Department and Forsyth Fire Department," Shivers said. "None of us could have done it alone."

Gwinnett County Fire Department spokesman Lt. Thomas Rutledge said Forsyth firefighters requested assistance and resources from the Gwinnett County Fire Department's Swiftwater Rescue Team to transport the injured man to an ambulance. Gwinnett firefighters responded about 12:20 p.m. a Fire Department press release said.

Shivers said it took approximately an hour and a half to find and rescue the fisherman.

"(That time) is actually very respectable for that type of operation," Shivers said.

Shivers said water levels nor negligence on behalf of the fisherman contributed to the incident - it was simply an accident.

"This could have happened to anyone," Shivers said of the man's fall. "It could have happened to you today in your backyard."