Bystanders save two from drowning

LAWRENCEVILLE - Bystanders were integral in the rescue of a young girl and a man in separate near-drowning incidents Saturday, although the girl is in critical condition in the hospital.

Swimmers and people on jet skis and boats rushed to find the 4-year-old when she went missing while playing in the water at a Lake Lanier park just after 2 p.m., said Gwinnett Fire Department spokesman Capt. Thomas Rutledge.

As people dove in to help, a woman called 911. By the time crews arrived, a rescuer had pulled the girl to shore and an off-duty nurse had begun CPR, Rutledge said.

While the girl did have return of spontaneous pulse during the transport to Northside Forsyth Hospital, she did not begin breathing on her own, the spokesman said. She was later transferred to Scottish Rite.

"Right now our thoughts and prayers are with the family," Rutledge said. "We can only hope for a continued positive outcome."

Rescue attempts on a man at the Chattahoochee River earlier in the day were more successful.

The man was fly-fishing with his son and the son's father-in-law while riding in a tube. He lost his balance, causing the tube to flip into the water, Rutledge said.

While the son quickly reached the 56-year-old man, he was reportedly not conscious when he surfaced. A bystander and members of a Boy Scout troop who were nearby helped the son pull his father from the water, and the son performed CPR.

Witnesses said the man regained consciousness and spat up water within minutes, and the scouts and rescuers helped guide the fire department's swift water rescue unit to the scene.

The crew took the man by boat to the shore and transported him to Gwinnett Medical Center for evaluation, Rutledge said.

"We applaud the son and the scouts and the bystander for rushing to his aid," Rutledge said. "They played a key part in the successful rescue."

Neither victim has been identified.