A boater on the Chattahoochee River found the body of a 14-year-old boy floating about 1:25 p.m. today near the Synovus building on the riverfront, authorities said.
Coleton Dean Brown, 14, of Seale, Ala., was pronounced dead of accidental drowning at 2:15 p.m., said Muscogee County Coroner Buddy Bryan. His body was transported to the morgue and a decision will be made later today on whether an autopsy will be performed. Bryan said a friend saw Brown when he slipped on the rocks about 5 p.m. Thursday and was swept into the rapids south of the 13th Street Bridge.
Crews with the Columbus Department of Fire & Emergency Medical Services and Department of Natural Resources have been on the river since they received the call Thursday afternoon.
Divers with Columbus Department of Fire & Emergency Medical Services suspended a search late Friday on the Chattahoochee River for the boy who was swept beneath the rapids Thursday afternoon.
Public safety personnel pulled out of the river about 9 p.m. after 14 hours of searching. Over the last two days, crews have searched about 18 hours since the boy disappeared about 5 p.m. Thursday.
Robert Futrell, assistant chief of Columbus Department of Fire and Emergency Medical Services, said crews will use boats, a helicopter and dogs when they resume searching at daylight Saturday. With help from Georgia Power on Friday, Futrell said crews cleared the area south of 13th Street Bridge to an area known as “Cut Bait.”
Divers continued the second day of searching at 7 a.m. Friday. By 8 a.m., Columbus crews were on boats and officials with the Department of Natural Resources were flying its helicopters over the Chattahoochee River, [JUMP]according to Futrell.
“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.
Georgia Power assisted in Friday’s efforts by decreasing the river’s current from low flow to zero as long as it possibly could. That gave divers time to reach under the water in the west bank area they were not able to access Thursday evening. That area is where the boy who wasn’t wearing a life jacket was swept into the river.
“We can’t put divers in because they can’t stay on the bottom in order to do an effective search,” Futrell said of the river’s current at low flow. “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.”
By 1:55 p.m. Friday, divers had been on the river for hours with the current at zero flow. When the current returned to low flow for about 30 minutes later, they were back on their boats hunting for the teen.
During the day, DNR also used its sonar to produce images of the bottom of the river.
A portion of the Chattahoochee River whitewater course into downtown was closed as the search continued, said Uptown Whitewater Management LLC President Richard Bishop. Uptown Whitewater Management LLC is the non-profit organization that manages the course.
As rescue officials began to search the river Thursday, the final raft 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 just north of the Dillingham Street Bridge will continue to operate as normal, Bishop said.
Authorities were called to the west side of the river after they were notified about the boy getting swept into the rapids. They were told that the boy was not wearing a life jacket when he slipped on the rocks and fell into the water, Fire Chief Jeff Meyer said late Thursday.
“He went in and couldn’t get back out,” Meyer said.
On Thursday evening, divers expanded the recovery operation south of the initial search area. After about four hours, authorities suspended the search until early Friday.
The search for the teen boy comes shortly after officials located the body of 15-year-old Tyquarius Myers and 35-year-old man Lloyd Cabiness, the males who fell off of a boat on Lake Oliver Marina at about 5:35 p.m. Sunday. Neither was wearing a life jacket.
Myers’ body was recovered at about 6:50 a.m. Wednesday, more than 12 hours after Cabiness’ body was found. Both were found near the Big Eddy Club, where they fell off of the boat and into the Lake Oliver Marina.
Myers and Cabiness were pronounced dead of accidental drowning, Bryan said.