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Posted on: February 23, 2016

Public safety personnel, new marine rescue boat credited for saving missing kayaker

A Hall County man is recovering after being saved on the banks of Lake Lanier with the help of quick-thinking public safety personnel and Hall County Fire Services’ new marine rescue boat.

Hall County 911 was contacted Monday evening by Pam Mock, stating her husband Wayne had not returned from his afternoon kayak ride. With subfreezing temperatures and the threat of winter weather in the hours ahead, the 911 dispatcher immediately sprang into action, notifying the marine rescue team and the 911 supervisor of the situation.

“The call taker obtained Mr. Mock’s phone number and service provider. We then called Sprint and had them ping his phone, and the GPS coordinates they gave us were right on target,” said Hall County 911 Director Gail Lane. “We had the coordinates by the time the marine rescue boat hit the water.”

Meanwhile, the marine rescue boat entered the water at Aqualand Marina and headed toward Van Pugh Park, the area where the phone’s GPS coordinates indicated the victim was located.

“Our personnel meticulously searched all along the shoreline between where the GPS coordinates indicated the phone was to the Mock residence, where Wayne reportedly got into the kayak,” Hall County Fire Chief Jeff Hood said. “Luckily, one of the crew members was able to spot the kayak on the shore near Chestnut Hill Road.”

Hood said Mr. Mock was discovered approximately 15 feet from the shore, supine and unresponsive.

“He was loaded onto Marine Rescue 1 and taken to Aqualand Marina, where he was transferred into an ambulance for emergency transport to Northeast Georgia Medical Center,” he said.

Hood said the purchase of the 23-foot vessel used to transport the victim on the lake was approved by the Hall County Board of Commissioners last year.

“The new boat allows for better clearance for life saving efforts like the ones utilized in this case,” he said. “There’s no doubt that it played a role in saving this man’s life.”

Assistant County Administrator Marty Nix also heralded the quick thinking of the 911 supervisor on duty when the call was received.

“Her instinct to get the GPS coordinates on Mr. Mock’s phone is what led the marine rescue crew to him. It made all the difference in the world,” said Nix.

Wayne Mock also thanks the 911 and Hall County Fire Services personnel involved in the call, as well as a number of others instrumental in saving his life.

“In addition to the fire department’s boat, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources also had a boat in the water, and members of the Hall County Sheriff’s Office responded as well,” Mock said. “Even my son-in-law was on the Jet Ski searching for me. It is overwhelming to know how many people came together to make sure I was found.”

Mock said he wanted to extend special gratitude to the 911 call taker and Lt. Tim Drake, who coordinated Hall County Fire’s boat rescue, and Rangers 1st Class Mark Stephens and Kevin Goss with the Georgia DNR.

“The weather was nasty and it was cold, and they could have given up and gone home, but they didn’t,” Mock said. “Twenty more minutes and I may not have made it.”

Col. Wayne Mock, who retired from public safety himself after serving with both the City of Atlanta Police Department and Hall County Sheriff’s Office, will meet with many of his rescuers 10 a.m. Wednesday at Hall County Fire Station 8 on Gaines Ferry Road.

“I want to tell them thank you, and my family wants to thank them too,” he said. “I don’t know if I’ll have the words, but I’ll do the best I can.”

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