Father dies

LAKELAND, Ga. — A father died Saturday afternoon saving his daughter from drowning, according to the Lanier County Sheriff.

The man has been identified as Cary Russell Self, 44, according to officials.

A call for help went out to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, the Lowndes County Dive and Recovery Team, Georgia State Patrol (Divers), Lakeland/Lanier Rescue, the Lanier County Sheriff’s Office, Lanier EMS and others, said Lanier County Sheriff Nick Norton.

A small child wandered away from a group of adults and into the Alapaha River at Pafford’s Landing, he said. When the father noticed what had happened he jumped in, swam to his daughter who was struggling to keep her head above water and held her up until someone took her from him, Norton said. The father never resurfaced. 

Lowndes County's dive team responded immediately upon receiving the call, but the man's body had been located before they arrived, said Capt. Stryde Jones of the Lowndes County Sheriff's Office. The body was located by the state patrol dive team, said Cpl. Chris Kelch of the GSP.

The Georgia DNR is investigating the drowning, Norton said.

This was at least the second drowning in the Alapaha River in Lanier County within a year. In July, a 2-year-old girl drowned during a family trip. When a storm approached, her family took shelter under a bridge. 

Mark McKinnon, spokesman for the DNR, said the girl’s body was found about 100 yards downstream from where the family had been sheltering.

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