More than 100 people were rescued out of the Chattahoochee River on Saturday, June 27, due to a severe thunder and lightning storm, including a mom and her two children whose tube deflated and left them stranded on the river.
According to an incident report by the Gwinnett County Fire Department, the father of the two kids called to report that his family was still in the river near Rogers Bridge Road in Duluth and he could not get them out. He walked them approximately half a mile behind the park to the wood line that was blocking his family in the river.
Once first responders located the family, they used a throw rope to secure a guideline up the bank and to the safety of a closed golf course. No injuries were reported and the family was walked out to the front of the park.
The Gwinnett County Fire Department, Johns Creek Fire Department and Duluth police also responded to a call for help at Abbotts Bridge Recreation Area in Duluth at 4:48 p.m.
Initial reports stated that four tubers were stranded north of Abbotts Bridge. Johns Creek rescued the first four victims and requested assistance from Gwinnett County with an estimated 20 more tubers.
According to the incident report, the additional tubers were not in distress, but needed help due to the weather. The incident report stated a total of 35 people were rescued by boats and another 76 were located and helped out of the river and up the banks at Abbotts Bridge.
When first responders arrived at the scene, they found tubing employees helping customers out of the river. However, the employees told the first responders they did not have a count on how many people were still in the river.
“The weather was still dangerous with lightning, thunder and steady light rain,” the incident report stated.
Gwinnett County fire completed a walk-around of the area, while Johns Creek launched a boat for rescue and recon. Together, they helped pull everyone from the river.
“A Good Samaritan fishing on the river also helped pull victims from the river,” the incident report stated.
According to Gwinnett Safety 411, the Chattahoochee River, which lies just below the Buford Dam, is one of the most popular trout fishing spots in Georgia.
However, the Chattahoochee can quickly change from a serene, slow-moving stream to a swift and treacherous river when water is released from Buford Dam — the river can rise to 11 feet within a matter of minutes.
There are several safety precautions in effect for the three miles of river between Buford Dam and the State Route 20 bridge such as wearing a life jacket and paying attention to warning signs posted along the riverbanks.
For more river safety tips, visit bit.ly/3ie8qBf.