Staff Photo: Erin Evans. Members of the Newton County Dive Team prepare to enter the water Thursday morning to resume the search for the body of 17-year-old Bernardo "Alex" Rosas, who was in the Factory Shoals Park waters Wednesday afternoon with friends. Rosas' body was found about 1 p.m.
COVINGTON -- For the second time in less than a week, Factory Shoals Park was the scene of a tragedy.
The body of 17-year-old Bernardo "Alex" Rosas was recovered Thursday afternoon, just days after a 59-year-old man was discovered dead in the waters Sunday. Rosas had disappeared in the waters of the Alcovy River below the shoals Wednesday when he was swimming with friends at the park.
The Newton County Sheriff's Office and the Newton County Dive Team were at the park until about 9 p.m. Wednesday searching for the teen but had to give up due to darkness and thunderstorms. They were back at the scene shortly after daybreak Thursday and found the body about 1 p.m. near an embankment.
NCSO public information officer Anthony Washington said the portion of the river where Rosas was found "is shallow in some portions and then it can drop off. Some of it is very deep. It depends on what area of the river you are in."
Washington said Rosas was with several other teens, at least one of whom saw that he was in trouble and tried to go to his aid.
Eighteen-year-old Sammy Mullinax Jr. of Covington said he tried to rescue his friend, whom he had known for about two years.
"He was walking in the water and then he just went under," Mullinax said. "I went over and tried to get him and he was all over me ... I tried to hang on to him as long as I could and he just slipped away."
Mullinax said his efforts exhausted him.
"I could hardly move ... somebody came out and helped me. I don't know who it was," he said.
A reader posted a comment on the Citizen website (www.newtoncitizen.com) saying that her husband was the man who apparently pulled the exhausted Mullinax to safety. She said she saw the victim's head go under the water and not come back up.
" ... the water was just flat ... everyone was trying to call 911 ... we kept looking over the water trying to see life but nothing moved ...," the reader wrote.
Mullinax said he did not believe his friend could swim and he was somewhat surprised at the strength of the river's current at Factory Shoals.
Recent rains have increased the amount of water that flows through the shoals, making the currents are stronger and the water deeper than normal. There have been four drownings at the park within the last two years. Public safety officials warn swimmers to exercise extreme caution. There are no lifeguards on duty.
According to American Whitewater website, the Alcovy River rapids at Factory Shoals are classified as Class III, or difficult.