Athens man drowns while fleeing traffic stop

Tallulah River (file photo)

The Georgia State Patrol has identified the man who drowned while fleeing from a traffic stop in Tallulah Falls as Lazavier Shamar Cook of Athens. A Search and Rescue team recovered the 32-year-old man’s body after a daylong search of the Tallulah River.

The incident began around 7:58 a.m. Monday when a trooper stopped a vehicle for speeding on GA 15/US 441 near Lofty Branch Road in Rabun County. According to the Georgia State Patrol, the trooper smelled marijuana coming from inside the vehicle and called for backup from the Rabun County Sheriff’s Office.

“While waiting for assistance, the trooper requested the female driver to exit the vehicle,” says GSP Public Information Officer Lt. Mark Riley. “After the female driver exited, the male passenger then jumped into the driver’s seat and fled the traffic stop.”

The trooper pursued the suspect, later identified as Cook, south on GA 15. While fleeing, Riley says the driver threw multiple packages from the vehicle.

The trooper used a PIT maneuver to end the chase. The suspect’s vehicle struck an embankment and then stuck the trooper’s patrol vehicle before coming to an uncontrolled stop. According to officials, Cook exited the vehicle and fled the scene on foot. He went into the river and disappeared.

The Rabun County Sheriff’s Office says officers and a K9 unit from the Georgia Department of Corrections searched for Cook but could not find him.

“Due to the location of the foot chase, it was feared that the individual may have drowned in their attempt to cross the river,” the sheriff’s office says.

Shortly before 4:30 p.m. on June 7, the Rabun County Search and Rescue team located Cook’s submerged body and recovered him from the river.

The case remains under investigation.

This article has been updated 

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