Created: Tue, 03 Sep 2013 01:23:00 EST
Updated: Wed, 04 Sep 2013 09:47:16 EST
Four Mercer University students were rescued from the swamps along the Ocmulgee River on Monday night when they got lost while tubing down the river.
The students, two men and two women, entered the river at the boat ramp at River Walk about 3:30 pm to float down the river. After traveling for several miles, the students went ashore and began to walk.
When they got lost, they used their cell phones to call for help.
Macon Police officers were dispatched to the boat ramp at the River Walk and met Macon-Bibb Fire Rescue workers.
The officers called the boaters on their phone and worked with Macon-Bibb Fire Rescue and the Department of Natural Resources to locate them.
E-911 operators assisted the search using the students' cell phone GPS capability. Officers from Precinct 2 were sent to assist and a Georgia State Patrol helicopter was on standby.
Men from the city Public Works Department also helped in the search. Lee Stringer and Jamie Josey were familiar with the back roads near the landfill south of downtown.
Three Precinct 1 officers began walking through the area of Bond and Walker Swamp. About a mile-and-a-half later, they found the students and led them to safety.
The students were found on the riverbank near the Cherokee Brick’s property near the company’s clay pit.
The students were checked by EMS and driven back to their vehicles.
"My officers did an excellent job in this rescue," Capt. Eric Walker said. :They were diligent and worked cooperatively among themselves and with other agencies to find the boaters and return them to safety without incident.
"We encourage everyone who uses waterways for recreation to observe safety rules, including exiting the water before dusk. Even if you are familiar with a river, it is easy to become disoriented when it becomes dark."