published Wednesday, May 28th, 2014

Drowning death of teen tied to shopping-cart under investigation

The Daily Tribune News

By Jessica Loeding

The Saturday drowning death of a Bartow County, Ga., teen who was playing a game with friends was the first this year on Lake Allatoona.

Chance Werner, 18, of Euharlee, drowned at about midnight. He was among a group of people at Holiday Harbor Marina in Acworth playing a game in which one person sits in a shopping cart tied to a pole. The cart is then pushed off the dock, causing the rider to "pop" out of it, after which he would swim to the dock, according to the Department of Natural Resources. Werner, however, was tied to the cart. The cart pulled him into the water, and he did not resurface.

The Bartow County Sheriff's Office said three young men, including Werner, were playing the game when Werner tied the rope to his waist.

His body was found about 2:50 a.m. by Department of Natural Resources, Bartow County Sheriff's Office and Bartow County Fire Department dive teams in about 30 feet of water, still tied to the cart.

Asked if charges would be filed should Werner have been tied to the cart by someone else, sheriff's office Sgt. Jonathan Rogers said investigators are looking into that possibility.

"We are going to have to interview some more people and then we will let the [district attorney] know our findings," he said.

It is possible alcohol was a factor, Rogers said, although that has not been confirmed.

Authorities are continuing the investigation into Werner's death.

Werner is enrolled at James Madison High School, an online-only institution, and was expected to complete school there in spring 2015, his father Fred Werner said.

One of the friends listed for Werner had posted Saturday of the "first official houseboat party" set for that night at Holiday Harbor Marina, which would include "karaoke and all partying all night come on." Among the comments on that post was the statement, "is this where chance died???"

This was the first drowning of the holiday weekend and the first on Lake Allatoona this year. The Department of Natural Resources reported a second drowning for the Memorial Day weekend when a man was pulled from the Atlantic Ocean on Tybee Island.

Bartow County emergency management Public Information Officer Brad Cothran said EMS crews had responded to the drowning along with two other incidents on the lake.

"Bartow EMS transported Friday afternoon a 25[-year-old] male that dove into the lake, striking his head and face on the bottom, which required treatment and transport to the emergency department," Cothran said in a statement. "Friday evening Bartow EMS transported a male that suffered a broken leg while wakeboarding on Allatoona Lake."

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