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2 men drown in lake

GAINESVILLE - Two men, one an Auburn resident, drowned on opposite ends of Lake Lanier over Mother's Day weekend. Both men were swimming in areas not designated for swimming.

A Hall County Sheriff's Office dive team found the body of Delfino Perez, 20, of Auburn, about 11:45 a.m. Sunday. Perez swam with friends to an island in the Old Federal Park day-use area in Flowery Branch about 7 p.m. Saturday, according to Maj. Jeff Strickland, spokesman for the Hall County Sheriff's Office.

"He (Perez) swam into deeper water and didn't resurface," Strickland said.

Dive team members found Perez about 50 to 75 yards from where he went under and in less than 10 feet of water, according to Strickland.

"The bottom (of the lake) was fairly clear," Strickland said.

Perez was a native of Guatemala. No information is available about his occupation or marital status.

"Our victim services are going to work with the consulate to transport him back home," said Hall County Coroner Marion Merck.

Just after 5 p.m. Sunday, Hall County Sheriff's Office dive team members recovered the body of 20-year-old Santiago Estrada of Gainesville.

Estrada was swimming in an area of Clark's Bridge Park where signs are posted reading, "Danger. No swimming."

Strickland said he did not believe a language barrier was a factor in the men swimming in non-designated areas.

"The Lanier Rowing Club leases that building and they have a private dock," Strickland said. "Estrada had to cross a fence to get to that dock."

Estrada was also accompanied by friends who told investigators that Estrada had jumped off the dock and did not resurface. Estrada drowned in about 15 feet of water.

Estrada was an unmarried construction worker and a native of Michoacan, Mexico, according to Merck.

Cold water might have contributed to the men's deaths, according to Ben Johnson, spokesman for the Georgia Department of Natural Resources.

This weekend's drownings total three drownings on Lake Lanier that DNR officials have responded to in 2007.

In 2006, seven people drowned on Lake Lanier, according to Johnson.

"By comparison, the number is alarmingly high for the middle of May," Johnson said.