A Waycross man who fell into the Satilla River when a boat capsized Sunday is back home safe and sound after spending Sunday night in the woods, said Ware County Sheriff Randy Royal.
Allen Thomas Graham, 51, of the 1400 block of East Baker Highway, Millwood, was reported missing after he and his boating friend, Leonard Turner III, 57, of the 3600 block of Augusta Springs Drive, were forced out of the boat between the Georgia Highway 158 bridge and the Jamestown Landing, said Royal.
“He walked out of the woods and up to a house at 5793 South River Road and asked to use the phone,” said Royal. “The residents there allowed him to use the phone to call his wife and to notify 911. He said he swam out of the river and reached the dry land, but it was getting dark and he was unfamiliar with his surroundings.”
Royal said Graham decided to stay put until daylight when he could see his surroundings.
“He told us he saw and heard the GSP helicopter but was unable to communicate,” said Royal. “As soon as it got daylight, he started making his way through the woods until he got to the residence where he used the phone. Other than being scratched up by briars and bushes, he is OK. The EMTs treated him for dehydration but no further treatment was necessary.”
Graham told lawmen and rescue personnel he was grateful to all of the emergency personnel that turned out and that he was sorry that it happened, but he was thankful that help came, said Royal.
By 2:30 p.m. Monday, Graham was back at home safe and sound.
Royal commended Cpl. Mark Poole, commander for DNR, Capt. Travis McNease, Sgt. Michael Ray and Sgt. Robert Weiss, of the Ware County Sheriff’s Department, Ware EMA director Jonathan Daniell, the GSP, Jeff Davis County’s team of divers and Coffee County rescue personnel who turned out to help search for the missing man.
“We are grateful for their cooperation and for the response we received,” Royal said. “But most of all we are grateful that Mr. Graham is safe and sound.”
Royal urges everyone to stay off the river at the present time until it recedes. The river had already reached flood stage and was still rising Monday afternoon, the sheriff said.
“The river is at a very dangerous stage and we just encourage everyone for their own safety to stay off the water until it subsides, as it is running swiftly,” Royal said.
Leonard and Graham were boating when the boat capsized around 4 p.m. Sunday and the two men got separated.
Royal said the men were accompanied by two dogs and some folks were concerned about the dogs being missing. He said both animals were found and are safe and well.