Dustin Bryan Arroyo Garcia, 19, drowned while swimming in the waters at Little River National Canyon Preserve in Alabama.
Photo: GoFundMe
Photo: GoFundMe

Cobb man drowns in Little River Canyon Preserve in Alabama

A Cobb County man’s body was recovered after he drowned in the waters of Little River Canyon National Preserve in Alabama, the National Park Service said.

Dustin Bryan Arroyo Garcia, 19, of Kennesaw, was swimming with a 21-year-old Cobb woman in the pool below Little River Falls on Tuesday when they were caught in the current, the agency said on its Facebook page. Federal parks officials said the woman was able to get out of the water while Garcia went under and did not resurface. 

The falls are located within the Preserve, which is managed by the federal agency. 

First responders were sent to the scene, but the agency said “above-average flows on the river from recent storms, with associated low visibility in the water,” prevented divers from locating Garcia. Since nightfall was approaching, the search was called off until the next day.

Crews conducting a search below the falls determined that Garcia’s body was possibly “down-river from his expected location.” An underwater remote-operated vehicle was used to help in the search, but the currents were too powerful for the device to locate Garcia, the park service added. 

Conditions on Thursday eased, and divers located Garcia’s body in the canyon just before 9 a.m. The body was turned over to the Cherokee County, Alabama, Coroner’s Office.

Coroner Dr. Jeremy Deaton formally identified Garcia as the victim and said his cause of death was accidental drowning. 

“Our hearts and our sorrow are with the family of the victim,” the agency added.

GoFundMe page has been created to help the family pay for funeral expenses. According to the page, Garcia had just finished his first year at Georgia State University. 

He liked to surprise family members with new clothes, and enjoyed biking at Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park and playing tennis. He is survived by his mother, father, brother and sister. 

“As a parent, one always lives thinking our children will outlive us. So of all the pain and heartbreaks one can experience in life, the feeling of losing a child is probably the most difficult to put into words, even more so to endure,” according to the message on the GoFundMe page. “It is hard to imagine our home without his presence now, but the 19 years we had with him were still a gift.”

On Monday, a 21-year-old from Douglasville was rescued from Little River Falls. According to a news release, Kenzie Wetzel slipped on a rock, got caught up in the current and was washed over the edge to the water below. She was able to make her way to rocks in the middle of the pool and was eventually picked up by a helicopter. Wetzel was taken to a hospital with undisclosed injuries.


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