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Swinging into summer

Officials urge safety this season

POSTED: May 20, 2009 4:00 a.m.
Photo/Michele Hester/

Ella and Callie Harmon play in the Amicalola River while visiting Devil's Elbow.

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Keziah Newton couldn’t be bothered last Friday afternoon.


It was about 85 degrees outside, and the 3-year-old was cooling off at one of Dawson County’s most popular swimming holes, Devil’s Elbow on the Amicalola River, with his father and younger brother.


Anyone who has lived in the area for any period of time has likely spent a few afternoons lounging in the sun, jumping into the water from a 35-foot tall cliff or swinging from a tree into the river at Devil’s Elbow.


“I’ve been coming here my whole life ... since we moved here from Florida when I was in high school,” said Ryan Coker.


Friday after school, Coker took his daughters, Ashley and Kendra, to the popular swimming hole.


Ashley Coker, a fourth-grader at Robinson Elementary School, said the water was cold. Still, she braved the manmade ladder to scale a tree and swing into the river.


“I’m going to do it again, dad,” she said.


With school out for the summer on Friday and forecasters anticipating a “hot” summer, swimming holes and parks around Lake Lanier will fill with visitors trying to cool off and soak up some sun.


While lake and river spots such as Devil’s Elbow can be a fun and inexpensive summertime outing, local authorities urge caution at these natural wet wonders.


“We had a girl who was rushed to the hospital after falling from the tree swing into the river two weeks ago at Devil’s Elbow,” said Tim Satterfield, the county’s chief of emergency services.


The Dawsonville teen, who emergency officials, said was between the ages of 14 and 16, was taken to Atlanta Medical Center after witnesses said she fell into shallow water and emerged bleeding from the mouth.


According to officials, the girl’s condition is unknown, however injuries were not believed to be life threatening.


Emergency personnel expect to be called out to local swimming spots throughout the summer to respond to what they describe primarily as carelessness.


Being prepared is the key to a safe and fun day at the old swimming hole.


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