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2 men drown in Lanier in unrelated incidents
3rd man dies after water park accident
Firefighters from the Forsyth County Fire Department assist Hall County Fire Services and the Hall County Dive Team Tuesday with a search for a drowning victim at Van Pugh Park North. - photo by SARA GUEVARA

The Hall County Fire Department responded to two unrelated drowning incidents within minutes of each other on Lake Lanier Tuesday afternoon.

Emergency responders from Hall County, Forsyth County and the Department of Natural Resources searched Van Pugh Park North and Mountain View Park with boats, helicopters and sonar for more than an hour.

At 5:10 p.m., crews recovered a body in 33-feet-deep water, 75 feet from shore at Van Pugh Park, said Hall County Sheriff’s Office Col. Jeff Strickland.

The 19-year-old male victim reportedly went under while swimming across a cove with his family.

Hall County Fire Chief David Kimbrell said alcohol wasn’t involved and the man was an experienced swimmer who planned to join the military next week.

Crews continued to search into the late afternoon for another unrelated drowning victim near Mountain View Park.

They were looking for the body of a male around 40 years old who never surfaced while swimming with his family, according to Kimbrell.

“Just jumping off (a pontoon boat) in the water, having a good time,” he said. “He jumped off and never came back up.”

Kimbrell said they are unsure what happened to the man but efforts turned from rescue to recovery after looking for over an hour.

Meanwhile, an Illinois man died Tuesday after a water-related accident at Lake Lanier Islands Resort on Monday.

Sergio Edwards, 21, of Dolton, Ill., was found in the pool at the bottom of the FunDunker, a water slide at the park, at 7:31 p.m. Monday, Kimbrell said.

A rescue team from the Hall County Fire Department arrived and administered CPR to Edwards, who was unresponsive when he was rescued. Edwards was then transported to Northeast Georgia Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead early Tuesday morning.

Authorities contacted county Coroner Marion Merck around 2:30 a.m., shortly after Edwards died.

Grier Todd, the chief executive officer at Lake Lanier Islands Resort, has issued a statement offering condolences to Edwards’ family.

“It is not known at this time what led to the tragic incident, which occurred on the popular attraction known as the FunDunker,” Todd said in the statement. “Hall County Fire Services is investigating the incident. Lake Lanier Islands extends its deepest sympathy to the family.”

The FunDunker has been a feature of Lake Lanier Islands since 1998, and this is the first serious accident related to the attraction, Todd said.

“We’re just looking into every aspect of it,” he said.

On Saturday a 23-year-old Gainesville man drowned in Lanier about 4:30 p.m., the sheriff’s office said.

Jember Monjaras Henriquez was swimming with his family when he went under the lake’s surface at Van Pugh Park North and did not resurface. According to family members, the victim suffered from epilepsy and they believe he may have suffered a seizure.

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