A 21-year-old man drowned Wednesday when he got caught up in the current on the Chattahoochee River after jumping from Settles Bridge in Suwanee.
Gwinnett County Fire and Emergency Services Capt. Tommy Rutledge said the man, who has not been identified, was jumping off the bridge at Settles Bridge Park with two friends when he disappeared. None of them were wearing life jackets, Rutledge said.
“According to his friends, he appeared to be in distress upon resurfacing,” Rutledge said. “One of the friends jumped in the water to provide assistance as the other friend grabbed a cellphone to call 9-1-1. The friend in the water made contact with the victim about 100 yards downstream from the bridge.
“The victim was combative and the friend was unable to rescue him without placing himself in extreme danger.”
Rutledge said crews were called to the scene at 5:27 p.m., and a Gwinnett County Swift Water Rescue Team located the man about one mile downstream at 6:18 p.m. He was about two feet below the river surface and caught in tree debris. He was pulled from the river and was being given CPR while crews took him to Emory Johns Creek Hospital.
Hospital officials declared the man deceased shortly after he arrived, Rutledge said.
Gwinnett County firefighters were helped by Gwinnett County police, Johns Creek’s swift water rescue team and the Forsyth County Fire Department in the effort to rescue the man. The DeKalb County Police Department’s helicopter was called in for assistance but that call was cancelled before it arrived.
Authorities say the incident underscores the need to follow the posted rules at the park, including staying off the bridge. Two weeks ago, Mountain View High School soccer player Perez Tamfu also drowned after he jumped off the bridge while hanging out with a group of friends at the park.
“It is illegal for anyone to climb on the bridge,” Rutledge said. “It is a historic structure, according to the U.S. Park Service.”
Return to www.gwinnettdailypost.com for updates.