CLEVELAND, GA - A 38-year-old man died in a drowning accident trying to save his 6-year-old son at the Chattahoochee National Forest at Dicks Creek Falls Tuesday.
The Lumpkin County Sheriff's Office says they responded, along with Lumpkin County Fire & EMS to the falls, located along Dicks Creek Road. Both victims were eventually recovered from the water.
Authorities identified the victims as Joshua Kistler, 38, and his six-year-old-son son Jaxon of Dahlonega. Numerous witnesses observed the incident.
Lumpkin County Sheriff Stacy Jarrard called the incident a tragic accident, and said no foul play is suspected.
Lieutenant Chris Pfrogner with the Lumpkin Co. Sheriff's Office stated that eye witnesses saw the father sliding down the rocks to get into the water before his son so he could be ready to catch him.
Jaxon then followed his father and slid down the same rock and went under the water. Witnesses say he never resurfaced and Kistler attempted to look for his son and it was later determined that he drowned in the process.
Officials found Jaxon's body in the same area where he went under while they found the father's body a little further down the creek.
According to Lt. Pfrogner, there is a very strong current in that particular area where both the father and son were swimming in and it is very possible that the undertow pulled Jaxon beneath the surface and that caused him to drown.
Lt. Pfrogner says he does not recall seeing any signage warning of the strong current around that particular creek.
"It is a very popular place and this is very rare."
There have only been two other times that Lt. Pfrogner can recall when someone drowned in that same area and in the most recent incident, which was about three years ago, alcohol was involved.
The sheriff's office said they would like to extend their gratitude to the people who assisted the victims prior to the arrival of emergency services, and that their thoughts and prayers go out to the Kistler family.
A GoFundMe page has been set up to help Gretchen Kistler, the mother and wife of the victims, to pay for funeral expenses.
Brigette Barker, a family friend who set up the account released a statement on behalf of the family:
"They are so thankful for the outpouring of love from the community and can feel everyone's prayers helping them in their hardest moments. They are overwhelmed and humbled by the communities response to the Josh & Jaxon Memorial go Fund Me Page, but more than anything ask for prayers during this difficult time."
The goal was to get $15,000 and the GoFundMe page has raised $19,403 in just 16 hours.
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