Teen drowns in restricted area of Hall County reservoir

Counselors were at East Hall High school Friday, one day after a sophomore’s body was pulled from Cedar Creek Reservoir.

Before the start of the regular school day, students met with principal Jeff Cooper to share their grief over the loss of Juan Carlos Salazar, Hall County Schools spokesman Gordon Higgins said in an emailed statement.

Rescue officials said Salazar should not have been in the water Thursday afternoon.

“The reservoir was marked with ‘no swimming’ signs and secured behind padlocked gates,” Hall County Fire Marshal Scott Cagle told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Salazar was among a group of teen boys who authorities said went onto the grounds of the reservoir for an afternoon dip, despite warnings to stay out.

He was reported missing around 1:41 p.m., and was found dead about an hour later, Hall Fire Rescue Chief David Kimbrell told The AJC.

Divers from the fire department and the sheriff’s office searched for about 20 minutes at the Cedar Creek Reservoir after Salazar was reported missing, authorities said.

Cagle said the teen tried to swim out to a deeper area of the 230-acre lake water with his friends.

“One of the swimmers apparently wasn’t a strong swimmer and tried to make it to the middle of the reservoir,” Cagle said. “That’s where he went under.”

The area where divers from the fire department’s marine rescue team and sheriff’s dive team initially searched was in a section of the reservoir that Cagle said was between 50 and 80 feet deep.

The reservoir is nearly 100 feet at its deepest point, authorities said.

“He was about 100 feet out from the bank in 28 feet of water,” he said of the teen.

This is the fifth drowning in Hall County since the beginning of spring, Channel 2 Action News reported.

The small lake has been in Hall’s northeast corner for about four years, and has a dam that is currently inoperative.

Kimbrell, who has been with the fire department for 25 years, said this is the first time he recalls a drowning in the reservoir.

“I don’t remember one being here,” he said.

It is unclear at this time whether charges will be filed against the other teens. Sheriff’s deputies investigating the death are questioning the other boys, fire officials said.

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