Accident Database

Report ID# 3511

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Accident Description

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Young Girl Drowns In River, Two Others Rescued Three young people – a nine-year-old girl, a twelve-year-old boy, and a 19-year-old girl – were reported missing on the north section of the Chattahoochee River early on Friday afternoon. They were all floating down the river in tubes of various types. The body of the youngest girl was subsequently recovered, and her two companions were found, both seriously injured and hypothermic. They were taken to an area hospital. Personnel responded from all area counties, the Georgia highway patrol and DNR, the Army Corps of Engineers, and several swiftwater rescue and dive teams.

Contact Information Name: Patty Wissinger, Superintendent

Child Drowns While Tubing in Chattahoochee Girl, 9, was with Suwanee teen and others Friday. June 5, 2011 A 9-year-old girl who was tubing in the Chattahoochee River drowned late Friday. Capt. Jason Shivers with the Forsyth County Fire Department said Anna Vanhorn of Peachtree City was under water for more than hour before her life preserver was spotted by authorities. The girl was transported to Northside Hospital-Forsyth, where she was later pronounced dead.

Vanhorn was with two adults, Rachel Johnston, 19, of Cumming, and Ashley Mabry, 19, of Suwanee, along with three minors at the time of the incident, according to a statement from the Forsyth County Sheriff's Office. Local authorities were alerted at 4:32 p.m. that a child was missing from the Chattahoochee River, somewhere between the Highway 20 bridge and Settles Bridge Park in Forsyth County. "At 5:41 (p.m.) we made the removal of the child from the river," said Shivers.

The search and rescue began at McGinnis Ferry Road and the Chattahoochee River, and ended at Rivercliff Court just off James Burgess Road, Shivers said. A rescue boat was also put in the river at Lower Pool Park. Shivers pointed out that during the search for the child the Buford Dam was generating power. "The water was flowing very, very swiftly and had risen substantially," he said. According to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers website , "The Chattahoochee can change quickly from a serene slow moving stream to a swift and treacherous river when water is released at Buford Dam. During water release, the river can rise up to 11 feet within a matter of minutes."

Rescue and fire personnel from Gwinnett County, Johns Creek and Roswell assisted Forsyth County in the search and rescue, and recovery of Vanhorn. An investigation is underway by the Forsyth County Sheriff's Office, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources and the United States Parks Service.

Chattahoochee River Drowning

Published : Monday, 06 Jun 2011, 5:32 AM EDT


FORSYTH COUNTY, Ga. - Witnesses who were tubing down the Chattahoochee River on Friday when a 9-year old girl drowned are talking about the incident. Authorities believe Anna Vanhorn was caught up in the release of water from the Buford Dam.

Alex Kintz, 17, was on the river at the same time that afternoon. She says she heard sirens go off, and the gentle currents became rushing rapids. Moments before Kintz capsized she says she saw Vanhorn.

"We heard these kids yelling - saying 'Get back in your tube' and we saw the little girl's tube lean up against the tree and flip. And when it flipped back over you couldn't see her," said Kintz.

Kintz's aunt was struggling to get her mother -- who had also flipped -- to safety as she says those with Vanhorn started their desperate search:

"I said, 'Are you ok? Where's the rest of the group?' And that's when she said the little girl had tipped over and they couldn't find her and they didn't have a cell phone," said Michael Anne Searles.

Vanhorn was underwater for more than an hour when rescuers spotted her lifejacket. The drowning is under investigation by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources.

Officials encourage people on the river to check the dam release schedule. You can call the hotline number at 770-945-1466.

Girl, 9, pulled from Chattahoochee River dies

By Alexis Stevens and Angel K. Brooks

WSB-TV Rescuers search the Chattahoochee River for a missing girl.

The child, who has been identified as Anna Vanhorn, of Peachtree City, had been under water for more than an hour when rescuers spotted her life preserver in the water, Capt. Jason Shivers with the Forsyth County Sheriff's Office said. She was transported to Northside Hospital-Forsyth, where she later was pronounced dead.

Vanhorn had been tubing in the Settles Bridge Park area, near the Forsyth and Gwinnett county line. Rescuers from both counties assisted with the search for the girl. There were two adults and three minors in the Chattahoochee River with Vanhorn at the time of incident, officials said. Authorities told Channel 2 that it appears the 9-year-old got caught in a water release from the Buford Dam. According to the Buford Dam water release recorded message by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Friday's release was scheduled to begin at 2:55 p.m. and end at 5:10 p.m. The message warns that in the event of a release, water levels below Buford Dam “are subject to rapid rise and turbulent flows and are dangerous” from the dam south to the Ga. 20 bridge.

Authorities received the 911 call at 4:32 p.m. An adult and two minors had run to a nearby home for help after realizing the 9-year-old wasn't with them, Channel 2 said. The incident is being investigated by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources.

Staffer David Ibata contributed to this article.

Nine-Year-Old Anna Van Horn Dies in Tubing Accident

By Ameer Shaikh
July 15, 2011

It is a common thing to beat the summer heat by seeking out bodies of water to splash around and cool down in. This includes everything from oceans, to lakes, to rivers and water parks. However, watery entertainment brings its own set of dangers and pitfalls, sometimes even of the tragic sort. And such a tragedy occurred on the Chattahoochee River when a 9-year-old girl named Anna Van Horn, who was tubing in the river with two adults and three children, was swept away due to the release of extra water from Buford Dam , reports the Atlanta Journal Constitution. The tragic nature of this tubing accident is compounded by the fact that the timing for the Buford Dam's release is managed by the Army Corps of Engineers and is published on radio station AM 1610 or on the phone via 770-945-1466, via a message that is recorded daily.

However, in the case of Anna Van Horn, the scheduled 2:55 p.m. release of Buford Dam that was to occur 2.5 miles further upstream was not revealed to the party by the tubing company, Allsouth Tubing, also known as $10 River Tubing. As a result, Anna became entangled in a partly underwater tree, fell out of her tube and was swept away, only to get caught in a second tree, where she drowned , reports NBC 11. Although the time of the water release is marked on a counter next to where the customers check in with $10 River Tubing, recently, a federal study by the National Park Service found that "no one made the group aware of any pending water releases or explained the emergency warning horn." In Georgia, businesses generally owe a duty of care to most people who would be considered "invitees" under the law. These people are to be afforded the highest duty of care. If one of these invitees was killed due to a failure in that duty, a wrongful death cause of action might emerge. Although, as in this case, a business catering to people that engage in adventurous activities might be able to argue that the adventurers had "assumed the risk" inherent in the act of tubing on an urban river


Government Report on Chattahoochee River Drowning Release

Published : Friday, 08 Jul 2011, 5:46 PM EDT

By RANDY TRAVIS/myfoxatlanta

BUFORD, Ga. - A government report into a fatal drowning on the Chattahoochee last month blames a tubing company for not providing proper training to its customers. Anna Van Horn, 9, died when a water release at the Buford Dam suddenly increased the speed of the river.

According to the report, the company didn't even warn customers that the Buford Dam up river had a scheduled release coming at the same time as they would be floating downstream. The National Park Service report details how the 9-year-old Peachtree City girl drowned during what was supposed to be a fun-filled summer afternoon floating down the Chattahoochee River. Suddenly, rising waters swept away some of the 14 tubers after the Buford Dam released water 2.5 miles up river.

According to the report, victims told investigators that no one from All-South Tubing, also known as $10 Tubing, warned about an imminent water release, or even explained before they entered the river what to do if the dam's emergency horn blew. When they heard the siren, the group "dismissed it as a distant police or fire siren and continued their float." Two of them later capsized in the rising waters but managed to eventually get to shore.

"They could hear male and female voices shouting, ‘Get back in your tubes!’ They could not see where the yells were,” the report reads in part. Anna Van Horn became entangled in a tree. Some other members of the group tried to reach her "before she lost her grasp of the tree and was swept downstream," the report says. One month later, the All-South Tubing Sugar Hill location is out of business. The government yanked its permit to operate there, and it is up for sale. In fact, the only sign of what was once there is a few laminated instruction sheets for tubers, which were tossed in the trash. Owner Jeff McCullough did not return a call for comment. He continues to run a second tubing operation based in Duluth. Representatives of the company have said in the past that they regret what happened, but they have denied doing anything wrong. The Park Service has turned over its findings to the U.S. Attorney's office.

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