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Harrowing trip ends well for kayaker
Rescue team pulls man from river

BUFORD - One man's experience Sunday on the Chattahoochee River probably isn't what Alan Jackson had in mind.

Instead of pale moon light, pyramids of cans and adolescent dreaming - as Jackson popularized in his early '90s crossover smash "Chattahoochee" - a 25-year-old novice kayaker met with police helicopters, rescue teams and potential hypothermia on the famed waterway.

Members of the Fire Department's Swift Water Rescue Team helped pull Sean Wade Timmons from the cold river water about midnight Sunday after he strayed from a group of his friends.

Timmons was on a 5-mile kayak trip between Buford Dam and a takeout point at Settles Bridge. Authorities said he paddled ahead and became separated from his friends north of the Ga. Highway 20 bridge in Buford. The group exited the river and called 911 just before 10 p.m.

"Our main concern was the fact that it was dark and quite a bit of time had lapsed," said Fire Department spokesman Capt. Thomas Rutledge. "It was getting colder, and hypothermia was a concern."

Firefighters responded to Up the River Outfitters in Buford, where Timmons had rented his kayak. Heading up-river from Duluth, crews searched for the shirtless man who reportedly wore only jogging pants and bowling shoes, Rutledge said.

A Gwinnett police helicopter using infrared technology spotted Timmons in the river around midnight "waiving his hands in an attempt to signal rescuers," Rutledge said. He was able to exit the river on his own at a subdivision near Settles Bridge, he said.

Timmons could not be reached for comment Monday. He told broadcast news reporters after the rescue he simply lost track of time and traveled farther than he should have.

Medical personnel checked Timmons for hypothermia and released him Sunday night. He was returned to the outfitters in Buford, where he reunited with friends and family.

"Fortunately, it was a successful outcome," Rutledge said.