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Chattahoochee drowning victim identified

NORCROSS — Authorities have found the body of a man who fell from his boat on the Chattahoochee River.

Capt. Tommy Rutledge said that Gwinnett County fire crews and the swiftwater rescue team were dispatched to the river near Jones Bridge Park in Norcross at about 11:15 a.m. Thursday. The male victim — later identified as 69-year-old Thomas Marvin Luckett of Dunwoody — reportedly fell from a 12-foot jon boat after it struck a submerged tree in the water just north of the park.

“The man was on a small boat with a friend and was not wearing a life jacket,” Rutledge said. “The man is unable to swim and has not been seen since he went into the water.”

Rescue teams from Gwinnett, Johns Creek and Roswell fire departments, as well as the U.S. Park Service and a Gwinnett County police helicopter, assisted with the search and canvassed the area from Medlock Bridge to Holcomb Bridge in Roswell, Rutledge said.

“The police helicopter (used) infrared technology to check the water and the banks,” Rutledge said.

At about 1:30 p.m., Rutledge said command was “considering a change from a rescue mode to a recovery mode due to the time lapse.”

Shortly after that, word came that the victim’s body had been found by members of the Johns Creek Fire Department.

“A rescue boat located the body river-right, just north of the old Jones Bridge structure around 1:30 p.m.,” Rutledge said. “The body has been removed from the water and the scene is being turned over to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources.”

Due to water generation from the Buford Dam, temperatures were believed to be as low as 47 degrees in the river. Depths in the area in question reached as high as 10 feet, Rutledge said. He stressed the need for safety while on the water.

“We encourage people who are on the river boating or fishing to wear a lifejacket,” Rutledge said, “and to avoid being out on the water when water generation is occurring.”