Valdosta Daily Times

August 5, 2013

Teens drown in river

Current too strong, says sheriff

Terry Richards
The Valdosta Daily Times

VALDOSTA — Two teens from Willacoochee drowned in the Alapaha River Saturday along the county line with Berrien County, according to the Atkinson County sheriff.

The two boys were at a popular swimming spot near a bridge on Ga. 135 in the afternoon, said David Moore, sheriff of Atkinson County. The pair were swimming from the Berrien County side of the river, he said.

The river was “level with the river banks,” Moore said, and the current was too strong for the boys.

A third swimmer survived, Moore said.

Around 7 p.m., 911 dispatchers received a call, and Atkinson authorities arrived soon afterward, the sheriff said.

The Atkinson Fire Department and the state Department of Natural Resources sent boats for dragging the river, Moore said.

At 9:30 p.m., the body of one of the teens was found, and around 11:30 p.m. the other body was found, the sheriff said.

Because the boys had been swimming from the Berrien County side of the river and the bodies were found on the Berrien side, the bodies were handed over to Berrien’s coroner, Moore said.

Berrien County Coroner Robert Lovein Jr. identified the victims as Rasheed Young, 18, and Rogelio Perez, 16, both of Willacoochee. Both boys were students at Atkinson County High School, Moore said.

The families of both teens were present during the search through the night, he said.

The bodies will be sent today to a Georgia Bureau of Investigation facility in Macon for autopises, Lovein said. Moore said no foul play is suspected.

“Authorities believe it was a horrible accidental drowning,” Lovein said.

Moore said that the swimming site is popular with the people of both counties, and a number of drownings have occurred there.