Man drowns, DNR urges safety at the lake

Man drowns, DNR urges safety at the lake
Self was crossing the river carrying his daughter. (Source: WALB)
Self was crossing the river carrying his daughter. (Source: WALB)
Keith McDonald (Source: WALB)
Keith McDonald (Source: WALB)

LANIER CO., GA (WALB) - The Alapaha River is quiet today following a tragic weekend for one South Georgia family.

44-year-old Carry Russell Self was carrying his daughter on his shoulders from one side of the river to the other Saturday, May 7.

"There's a shallow spot between here and those small cypress trees. That's where he was trying to walk with his daughter on his shoulders," explains Georgia Department of Natural Resources Ranger Keith McDonald.

Self was on a narrow path, only 3 to 4  feet wide, carrying his 3 year old daughter.

Officials believe he either lost his footing or got caught in the current while walking.

"Just on the other side of those cypress trees it drops off to 8 or 9 feet," says McDonald.

Bystanders told officials they saw the young girl bobbing in the water. They were able to save her, but didn't see Self.

"Something happened which made him go into deeper water," says McDonald

The current carried him nearly 20 feet down the Alapaha River. That's where a diver found his body. Self's death was ruled an accident.

This is the first drowning of the year and with the weather warming up DNR is warning lake-goers to stay safe.

"The river's not one constant depth. The depth varies just like the current does," warns McDonald.

Officials say the currents may not look strong but can cause problems for even the best swimmers. They say knowing what to do if you get caught in a current is crucial.

"Swim with the current. You can't fight the current. That's why I say you have to swim with it," urges McDonald.

They also advise children 13 and younger to have on a life jacket when playing near the river even if they can swim.

"The water's always moving. Even if they're playing right here by the sandbar it would be very easy for them to get caught in that current and carried down the river," McDonald explains.

Officials say Self's daughter is safe and didn't have any injuries.

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