Update: Around 7 a.m. Friday, divers with the Columbus Department of Fire & Emergency Medical Services resumed its search for the 14-year-old Seale boy who was swept beneath the rapids south of the 13th Street Bridge at about 5 p.m. Thursday.
At this time, officials have their boats on the water.
The Department of Natural Resources will use its helicopters in Friday's search, said Robert Futrell, assistant chief of operations for Columbus Department of Fire and EMS. "At low flow, we're hoping that if he is in that area that is shallow, maybe the helicopter will be able to see him," Futrell said.
Authorities are not sure at this time if the sonar equipment that DNR used in the search for the two males who fell out of boat in the Lake Oliver Marina would be as effective in this particular situation. Officials are going to evaluate that option, the deputy chief said.
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Columbus Fire & EMS officials are working with the Georgia Power Company to decrease the flow of the water, so divers will have a chance to access the west bank area they were not able to reach Thursday night. Low-flowing water makes it difficult for divers to look for boy, Futrell said.
"We can't put divers in, because they can't stay on the bottom in order to do an effective search," Futrell said. "So if they bring it down to zero flow, that might give us an opportunity to get divers into the area where he went in.
"The only problem is that in order to do that they had to generate a lot of water last night," Futrell said. "Because of that, there is a good chance that he might have moved."
A portion of the Chattahoochee River whitewater course into downtown Columbus has been closed as the search continues, said Uptown Whitewater Management LLC President Richard Bishop.
Uptown Whitewater Management LLC is the non-profit organization that manages the course.
Thursday as rescue officials began to search the river, the final raft tour operated by Whitewater Express went through the rapids near the Eagle & Phenix powerhouse.
"About five boats came through, and they were already in the water when we learned of the search," Bishop said.
The zip line before the rapids just to the north of the Dillingham Street Bridge will continue to operate as normal, Bishop said.
Second Update: At about 1:55 p.m. Friday, Futrell said that divers have been out in the Chattahoochee River for hours. They were able to search in the area where the boy was swept into the water after the Georgia Power decreased the river's flow to zero.
Futrell said the flow will return back to a low flow in about 30 minutes, and officials will be back out on the water in boats when it does.
DNS is currently using it's sonar system in the search.
Original Story: A day after a second body was recovered from Lake Oliver, divers with the Columbus Department of Fire & Emergency Medical Services were called to the west side of the Chattahoochee River Thursday to search for a 14-year-old boy who was swept beneath the rapids south of the 13th Street Bridge.
More than a dozen personnel, including divers using poles and ropes, searched an area where the teenager was swept into the river just after 5 p.m. Witnesses said the boy was in the water without a life jacket, said Robert Futrell, assistant chief of operations for Columbus Department of Fire & Emergency Medical Services.
The search was suspended after about four hours on the river where divers expanded the recovery operation south of the initial search area.
The boy slipped on rocks and fell in the water, said Fire Chief Jeff Meyer.
“He went in and couldn’t get back out,” Meyer said.
Futrell said people don’t realize how slippery the rocks are near the water.
“If you slide in, there is almost no way to get back out of that area,” he said. “Anybody near the water, even if they can swim if they slide into those currents, it’s going to be hard for them to get out.”
Futrell said rescue personnel haven’t done a search for a person wearing life jacket. After getting into the water, the current was a problem in that area.
“The current got him and there wasn’t a whole lot he could do after that,” Futrell said.
The river was at minimum flow when the boy slipped and Georgia Power started generating after 5 p.m. The river came back up and went down after rescue personnel called for a shut down. “Even at low flow in that area is really swift,” he said. Along the river, that area is probably the worst spot, Futrell said.
“Even where there is low flow, the current is so swift there we can’t get divers close to where he might be,” he said.
Officials hope to get help with the flow during the search today. Georgia Power will help to stop the flow as much as possible, he said. Water is backed up in the dam after recent rains and officials are pushing water through during the night. During the search, at least two divers wearing life jackets were tied to a rope as they searched off shore into a slow-moving pool of water. Divers tossed a black bag into the river to help determine flow of the current where the boy was swept under water.
While divers concentrated their search near the west bank, police officers and other public safety personnel stood on rocks across the river and searched for any object that might pop up in the current. The search for the boy came more than a day after divers recovered the body of 15-year-old Tyquarius Myers about 6:50 a.m. Wednesday near the Big Eddy Club on the Lake Oliver Marina. Myers’ body was located more than 12 hours after the body of Lloyd Cabiness, 35, was recovered in the same area after they fell from a boat around 5:35 p.m. Sunday. Neither was wearing a life jacket.
Staff writer Chuck Williams contributed to this report.