(Lawrenceville, Ga., July 13, 2019) – Gwinnett County firefighters and police responded at 4:52 p.m. Saturday, July 13, 2019, to a multi-victim river rescue incident on the Alcovy River at Freemans Mill Park. Rescue operations began after a frantic 911 call came in reporting that multiple children were stranded in the rapids at the park. The park is located in the 1400 block of Alcovy Road, SE in unincorporated Lawrenceville.
Click video below for footage from Gwinnett County Fire and Emergency Services of rescue operations.
“Engine-16 was the first unit to arrive at the scene. The crew was immediately met with an adult and 10-children that were in immediate danger in the water. There was a group of children on the rocks below the falls and a father and child on top of the falls in the middle of the river. The river was rain-swollen due to a recent thunderstorm, which created treacherous rapids and swift current conditions,” Gwinnett County Fire and Emergency Services public information officer Capt. Tommy Rutledge reported in a press release. “As additional units were responding to the scene, the crew of Engine-16 and Engine-15, made an immediate rescue of a child who was about to go over the top of the falls to an approximate 10-foot drop in raging waters. Two firefighters donned their PFD’s, tethered to a rope, and entered the water to gain access to the child. The firefighters were able to bring the child safely back to shore.”
The other children were then removed from the water by other fire rescue crews. They were on the rocks in the middle of the river below the rapids. Rutledge said rope rescue bags and safety points were established down down river to remove the children from the water. Firefighters were able to get lifejackets out to parts of the group as they waited to be rescued.
“The crew of Engine-31 and Swiftwater-14 were able to affect the rescue of a father and son who were in immediate danger of going over the top of the falls and being swept away by the swift current,” Rutledge said. “Per the Incident Commander, crews were able to successfully rescue all eleven people from the river by 5:51 pm. The group was assessed by paramedics and transported to a local hospital for further evaluation. There were no obvious injuries noted.”
Rutledge said the group was believed to be part of a large multi-family gathering that was picnicking near the edge of the river.
“They were located at the bottom of the trail near the watermill. Signs posted in the area warn patrons not to enter the water,” Rutledge said. “This was a successful river rescue operation by multiple units at the scene. The brave actions of the firefighters kept the situation from becoming a tragedy for the families involved.”
The Alcovy River is a flood-prone area that runs through both Gwinnett and Walton counties. The National Weather Service in its hazardous outlook alert warned that the potential for extensive rains over the next week could give rise to flash flooding. Stay tuned for any watches and warnings that the NWS may issue.