20-year-old Swimmer Missing After Friends Leave Him Behind

Zachary Rutledge, a young man from Georgia, went swimming with friends in Lake Lanier on Monday evening. After he failed to return, his companions notified authorities around 8:30 p.m. that Rutledge was missing. An extensive search operation was launched, involving multiple agencies and both water and air units.

However, Rutledge remained undiscovered throughout the night. The next morning, a sheriff’s deputy patrolling the area located Rutledge safe and sound around 9 a.m. on Tuesday. It appears Rutledge had swam to a nearby island, and upon returning to shore, found that his friends had departed without him.

Rutledge spent the night at the park, unaware that the search helicopters circling overhead were actually looking for him. He had no phone to call for help.

While the story has a happy ending, officials are using this incident to remind the public about water safety. They advise against swimming alone, maintaining clear communication with companions, and ensuring everyone in the group is accounted for

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