20-Year-Old Found Safe After Going Missing In Infamous Lake Lanier, Social Media In Shock

20-Year-Old Found Safe After Going Missing In Infamous Lake Lanier, Social Media In Shock

A 20-year-old man missing after a swim at Lake Lanier was found safe, stirring up social media reactions.

Zachary Rutledge, from Winder, GA, went missing Monday night at Burton Mill Park on Lake Lanier. He was discovered safe the following morning by a Hall County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO) deputy patrolling the park. Zachary Rutledge, who had spent the night in the park, flagged down the deputy just before 9 a.m. on Tuesday.

Zachary Rutledge (Hall County Sheriff’s Office)

The search for Zachary Rutledge began after his friends lost track of him while swimming around 8:30 p.m. Unsure whether he was still in the water or had left the park on foot, authorities launched a comprehensive search operation.

Both the Georgia Department of Natural Resources and Hall County Fire Rescue conducted water searches, while the Georgia State Patrol (GSP) performed aerial searches. The preliminary investigation revealed that Rutledge had swum from the shore to an island and later returned to find his friends had left. Without a phone to call for help, he spent the night in the park. He mentioned hearing the GSP helicopters but was unaware they were searching for him.

Rutledge’s safe return was met with widespread shock and relief, as Lake Lanier is notorious for tragic accidents and deaths.

Social media erupted with reactions to his survival.

One X user tweeted,

“That’s a different kind of flex to say ‘I survived Lake Lanier.’”

Another X user wrote,

“Put this in the history books!”

See more reactions below:

Lake Lanier’s reputation as a dangerous and even haunted lake has been reinforced by numerous incidents over the years.

Last year, Tameka Foster, the ex-wife of R&B singer Usher, started a petition to drain and clean the lake after her son, Kile Glover, died in a jet ski accident there in 2012. Tameka Foster’s petition calls for better safety measures and the removal of hazardous debris from the lake.

Tameka Foster

In her petition, Tameka Foster emphasized the lake’s dangers:

“By acknowledging and addressing these risks, we can foster an environment that prioritizes the well-being of all individuals. It has been reported as the most polluted lake in Georgia and ranked as one of the 10 most polluted lakes in the United States.”

Lake Lanier continues to be a subject of both fascination and fear, with Rutledge’s survival story adding to the lake’s eerie and dangerous reputation.

Share your thoughts below!

Authored by: Aaron Keenan