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Fishermen find drowning victim

Discovery ‘bittersweet’ for friend

POSTED: June 16, 2008 5:00 a.m.
Fishermen on Thursday discovered the body of a man who has been missing in Lake Lanier since drowning in early May.

Hall County Sheriff’s Maj. Jeff Strickland said an autopsy confirmed the identity of the man as 46-year-old Broderick Bradford and that Bradford died from drowning. No foul play was suspected, Strickland said.

A friend of Bradford’s, Sharon Gaston-Johnson, said she had mixed emotions when told that the married father of two had finally been found.

"It’s bittersweet," she said. "I’m kind of relieved but sad at the same time. I’m just glad the family got closure. We know that he really did drown, and he’s not just out there somewhere."

The sheriff’s dive team spent eight full days over the past month searching for Bradford’s body in waters off the shore of Aqualand Marina about a quarter-mile from where his body was found Thursday.

Strickland said the fishermen saw the badly decomposed body floating about 150 yards from the shore of Old Federal Park at about 9 a.m. Thursday.

Bradford was riding a personal watercraft near Aqualand Marina’s gas docks when it overturned early on the evening of May 4. He was not wearing a life jacket and went under after trying to get back on the watercraft, according to witnesses.

Bradford was a driver for UPS who lived with his wife and two sons, Gaston-Johnson said.

"He was a great person, a very fun-loving person, and all his friends are going to miss him," she said.

She said she was hopeful family members would plan a local memorial for Bradford, who grew up in Michigan.

"Hopefully, the family will have a memorial here, something where we can say our official goodbyes now that they have him," Gaston-Johnson said.

Bradford was the first drowning victim of the year on Lake Lanier after nine drownings in 2007.

On May 23, a Norcross teen became the second drowning victim of the year on the lake.

Marco Antonio Torres, 18, was swimming with friends near the shore of Van Pugh Park when he went under. His body was recovered by Hall County fire and rescue divers in 10 feet of water about 20 minutes after he drowned.

Bradford’s body went down in water that ranged in depth from 30 to 70 feet, officials said.

Heavy underwater vegetation and low visibility hampered the search, during which divers spent more than 60 hours looking for Bradford’s body.



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