FORT PAYNE — A 19-year-old man from Cobb County drowned underneath Little River Falls in Alabama Tuesday while swimming with a 21-year-old woman, also from Cobb County.
According to Little River Canyon National Preserve officials, on the afternoon of Tuesday, May 19, at about 2:15 p.m., the two Cobb residents were swimming in the swift waters in the pool beneath Little River Falls. Both swimmers got caught up in the current. The woman was able to escape, but the man did not resurface.
First responders were immediately dispatched and on-scene within minutes and a search and rescue operation was initiated.
Above-average flows on the river from recent storms, with associated low-visibility in the water, created circumstances which made it impossible for Fischer Rescue Squad divers to locate the victim in the area he was believed to be, and approaching nightfall caused the rescue attempt to be suspended until the following day.
A foot search along the river below the falls, coupled with an aerial search conducted by an ALEA Aviation helicopter, eliminated the possibility that the victim may have been down-river of his expected location.
Unsafe diving conditions persisted on Wednesday. Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency delivered and operated an underwater remote operated vehicle to continue the underwater search without risking additional personnel. Strong and unstable currents proved too powerful even for the vehicle and the attempt to locate the victim was once again suspended for the evening.
River conditions let up enough for continued dive attempts by Thursday morning.
The victim was located and recovered by Fischer Rescue Squad divers at 8:50 a.m. and extracted from the canyon by Fischer Rescue Squad and Fort Payne Fire Department. The victim was turned over to the coroner’s office.