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Authorities identify drowning victim

Body recovered 20 feet from shore

POSTED: August 25, 2008 5:00 a.m.
Authorities have identified a man who drowned Wednesday morning in Lake Lanier.

Capt. Frank Huggins, spokesman for the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office, said 30-year-old Jose Jimenez was wading in the water at about 11:45 a.m. with a friend when he disappeared. Huggins was not sure where Jimenez lived.

The Forsyth County Fire Department’s dive team found Jimenez’s body at about 12:20 p.m. some 20 feet from shore at West Bank Park.

The park is off Buford Dam Road, not far from the dam, in eastern Forsyth County.

Capt. Jason Shivers, spokesman for the fire department, said divers located the body about 60 seconds after they entered the water. The divers used sonar to make the discovery in about 7 feet of water.

Shivers said Lanier is "not the lake it used to be."

"Fire officials urge boaters, swimmers and fishermen to always wear life preservers and be cognizant of the changing Lake Lanier," Shivers said. "Lake levels are still dangerously low, and severe drop-offs are prevalent near the shores."

Summer may be winding down, but the Labor Day holiday is a little more than a week away. Shivers said visitors to the lake and the Chattahoochee River should be cautious.

"This is an important time for visitors to remember basic aquatic safety tips," he said, "First and very importantly, if you’re a nonswimmer, do not go into the water. Enjoy the scenery from the shore."

Shivers said those who do get in the water should abide by all posted boating and swimming signs.

Wednesday’s drowning is at least the fifth of the year and second of the month on Lanier.

An 18-year-old Winder man drowned Aug. 10 near Old Federal Campground in Hall County. The teen and several friends had been floating on a piece of Styrofoam when they tried to swim about 50 to 100 yards to the shore.

Before Wednesday, there had been four drownings and four boating-related deaths.

In some cases this year, victims drowned after jumping out of a boat, which the Department of Natural Resources classifies as boating fatalities.

Three of the deaths were in Forsyth County over the July Fourth weekend.



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