A 4-year-old girl was in critical condition at a Forsyth County hospital Saturday night following the heroic efforts of bystanders to rescue her from drowning in Lake Lanier at Buford Dam.
Gwinnett County Fire and Emergency Capt. Tommy Rutledge said a 911 call went out from Lower Overlook Park just after 2 p.m. Saturday. When paramedics arrived, an off-duty nurse was already administering CPR to the girl on the shore.
The girl's pulse returned while she was being rushed by ambulance to Northside-Forsyth Hospital, but she was not breathing on her own, Rutledge said.
Rutledge said several people at the park heard the girl's mother screaming and rushed to help her.
"There was a little bit of a language barrier as people rushed to see what was going on," Rutledge said.
Several people who did not know the girl's family dove into the water and began searching immediately, he said. A man who was towing a inner tube on a personal watercraft beached the vessel and jumped into the water, locating the girl quickly and pulling her out, Rutledge said. An off-duty nurse immediately began CPR, he said.
Rutledge could not say how long the girl was under the water before she was found. The circumstances of the near-drowning were also unknown, he said.
"It's unclear whether she was playing in the water, or slipped or jumped in," Rutledge said.
Authorities did not release the girl's name Saturday.
Rutledge praised the strangers who helped before first responders arrived.
"The bystanders who came to her aid, especially the gentleman on the Jet Ski and the nurse, are to be commended for their efforts," Rutledge said.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with this girl's family, and we just pray for a positive outcome."