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Man drowns in Amicalola Creek
EWTO Front page

A Labor Day family outing turned tragic Sunday afternoon when a Mableton man drowned in Amicalola Creek.

Ramiro Ponce-Ruiz, 45, was swimming with family and friends at a popular site near Steele Bridge known as Devils Elbow.

He dove in and came up one time, apparently in trouble, said Dawson County Emergency Services Chief Lanier Swafford. He didnt resurface.

Swafford said the call came in at 3:50 p.m. Sunday afternoon, Sept. 1.

Dive teams from the Dawson County Sheriffs Office, Forsyth County Fire Department and Cherokee Fire Department conducted recovery efforts in the area, Swafford said.

During Sunday afternoons efforts, divers used the creek bank as an anchor point in the search for Ponce-Ruiz and ended the search about 8:30 p.m. as darkness descended.

Crews restarted their search at 8 a.m. Monday morning using a small boat and K9 units.

The boat allowed us to use a different anchor point and to utilize the K9s, said Swafford. The dogs alerted in the area where the body was recovered.

Ponce-Ruizs body was found about 12:53 p.m. in approximately 22 feet of water, about 60 feet from the shore, and 100-150 feet from Steel Bridge, said Swafford.

Anytime you dive in a river, you have low visibility, and we had some channel challenges because the water was moving quickly, he said.

Hall County Sheriffs Office dive team members were on stand-by, but were not deployed, according to Swafford.

Georgias Department of Natural Resoucres personnel were a critical part of the recovery efforts, said Swafford.

Sgt. Lee Brown, from DNR Law Enforcement, was on the scene Sunday afternoon and had several safety tips for swimmers.

The main thing people need to realize is that if they are marginal or non-swimmers, they need to wear a life jacket, said Brown. In areas like the Amicalola Creek, there may be an undertow and obstructions in the water that you cant see.

Brown said rain can quickly move additional obstructions into Dawson Countys creeks and rivers.

If we get two inches of rain, it could bring something down tomorrow that wasnt there today, he said. Also, if a swimmer is in trouble, be mindful that the person who goes out to help doesnt put themselves in danger that person should put on a life vest, or throw them a rope or buoy.

The weather Sunday and Monday was overcast with temperatures in the low- to mid-80s. Rain fell in the northwestern part of the county early Sunday morning, and may have contributed to strong currents in the area.