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Fisherman rescued after water rises

NORCROSS - Gwinnett County firefighters rescued a man who was almost swept downstream while fishing in the Chattahoochee River on Monday.

Gwinnett County Fire Department spokesman Lt. Thomas Rutledge said the department's Swiftwater Rescue Team was called about 1:18 p.m. to help a man believed to be about 40 years old escape fast-moving waters.

Rutledge said the fisherman was in an area of the river south of Jones Bridge Park in Norcross when the waters picked up and the man was swept down the river near Fulton County. Rutledge said the man was not wearing a life jacket.

"The man was fishing in the river alone when the water began to rise," Rutledge said. "We believe he may have been in the water approximately one and a half to two hours."

The team used a rescue boat, Rutledge said, to reach the man who had stopped on a rock near the Barnwell Ramp area of the river in Fulton County. The man was rescued about 2:10 p.m., Rutledge added.

Rutledge said someone nearby heard the man calling for help and called 911.

"He was stuck on the rock in about waist-deep water," Rutledge said. He was not able to maneuver to river-right and got stuck."

Rutledge said the man complained of feeling cold and faint but was assessed by Fulton County medics and was determined to have no injuries. The man was not taken to the hospital, Rutledge added.

Rutledge said anyone participating in activities in or around a river or water should wear a life jacket and have life-saving equipment - even if the person is capable of swimming.

"If you're going to be doing any type of recreational activity in or around the river you should first check with the Corps of Engineers to check when water is freed from the dam," Rutledge said. "It's important to always have a partner to make sure there's someone who can help or call for help if needed.

"The water can change very quickly," Rutledge said. "And it doesn't take long to succumb to hypothermia."