An East Hall High School sophomore was trying to swim to a structure in the Cedar Creek Reservoir when he went under Thursday and friends were unable to rescue him.
The teen, identified Friday as Juan Carlos Salazar, 16, was swimming with friends toward a drain about 300 feet from the shore, according to John Marshall, spokesman for the Hall County Sheriff’s Office.
“The swimmers were about 100 feet from shore when Salazar began having problems and submerged,” Marshall said. Salazar’s friends, also high school students, tried to help but were unable to rescue him. They did provide good information to responders to help them in their rescue and recovery operation.
Hall County Fire Services divers found Salazar’s body just under half an hour after they got in the water.
The call reporting the drowning came in at 1:41 p.m. The teen’s body was retrieved at 2:48 p.m. about 100 feet from shore in water that was 28 feet deep, according to Hall Fire Chief David Kimbrell.
Kimbrell said the teen likely became distressed and tired after swimming out so far.
The group of teens had been celebrating the upcoming end of the school year and went to the reservoir to swim after their half-day of school.
School system Superintendent Will Schofield said he met with the family Thursday evening. The school had counselors on hand Friday. And principal Jeff Cooper met with students in the gym Friday morning before school started. Many had learned through social media who had drowned.
According to Kimbrell, this is the fifth drowning of the year, including three in Lake Lanier and one in a pool.
Swimming is not allowed in Cedar Creek and Kimbrell said “no swimming” signs are posted around the reservoir, though none were seen in the area the boys entered. Fishing and boating are permitted.
The access road to the reservoir is off Timber Ridge Road, near Joe Chandler Road, and is gated though there’s room to walk around the gate.
This incident is under investigation by the sheriff’s office Criminal Investigation Division.
A funeral for Salazar is set for 11 a.m. Sunday at Church of the Living God.