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Rescuers pull teens from river

SUWANEE -- A relaxing afternoon on the Chattahoochee River after finishing a tough year of school turned into a rescue situation for three teens Wednesday.

With water being discharged by the Buford Dam quickly filling up the river, swift water rescue teams from Gwinnett and Forsyth County's fire departments responded to a call about a mile south of Settle's Bridge Road in Suwanee just after 3:30 p.m., Gwinnett County fire spokesman Capt. Tommy Rutledge said.

A trio of 17-year-olds (two boys from Roswell and one girl from Marietta) had been kayaking and "just enjoying the afternoon" when newly released water from the dam caught them off guard.

"They didn't think the water level was going to reach them as quickly as it did, but they were caught in the current and the rising water," Rutledge said.

The kayak of one of the boys capsized, stranding him in the water. Swimming, he managed to make it to his friend, and they took refuge on a rock while the girl went in pursuit of the wayward kayak, Rutledge said.

With Forsyth County using a pair of jet skis and Gwinnett County launching a rescue boat, all three unfortunate river-goers were rescued without injury by 4:15, just 45 minutes after the dual-department response.

"They were pretty much embarrassed by the whole thing but understood how dangerous it was," Rutledge said. "We were just fortunate we were able to locate them quickly and that they were not injured."

The Chattahoochee River is more often than not a serene, inviting place to spend an afternoon. But with the Buford Dam generating intermittently throughout the day, it can quickly turn into a turbulent and dangerous waterway, Rutledge said.

"People need to be aware of when generations are occurring on the dam," he said. "Whenever going on the river, they should contact the Corps of Engineers on a daily basis to find out their schedule."