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Sheriff: Day of fun ended tragically for Covington pair
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Members of a joint state and local water rescue team search the Alcovy River in south Newton County this week after a Tuesday report of two people possibly drowning. — Newton County Sheriff's Office

A Covington resident’s efforts to save his girlfriend’s son from drowning Tuesday, Aug. 11, ended tragically for both in the Alcovy River.

Members of a local and state water rescue team recovered the bodies of Covington residents Antonio Perry, 38, and Dejerein Grier, 14, from the river adjacent to Factory Shoals Park in south Newton County Wednesday and Thursday, Aug. 12 and 13. 

Family members reported the two missing Tuesday night after both went under the water around 7 p.m., said Sheriff Ezell Brown.

“(Responding deputies) were told the teenage son had gone out swimming and the teenage son appeared to have gotten in a … challenging mode with the waters,” Brown said.

Perry then went out into the water to rescue the teen “and he was succumbed by the waters, as well,” Brown said.

Media reports said family members had gathered at the park for a day of fun and relaxation. The mother of Grier and girlfriend of Perry, Tonya Hardeman, also was there, Fox5 News reported.

Brown said the group had been “to another area and they left that area and they chose to come to this last area where they were all together again.”

“They were just going to enjoy, have fun,” he said.

The Newton-Covington Dive Team was called in to search after the incident occurred but called off their efforts because of darkness Tuesday night.

The team resumed its search Wednesday and found Perry Wednesday afternoon but ended the search because of heavy thunderstorms, said spokeswoman Caitlin Jett of the Newton County Sheriff's Office.

The team then resumed the search of the river Thursday morning, Aug. 13, and found Grier, Jett said

Brown said he wanted the families of the victims to know “that they have our greatest sympathies for their loss — especially during these times.” 

He noted concerns about COVID-19 had forced changes in how funerals are conducted.

“Any time is a bad time, but these times are unprecedented times that you do not have the opportunity to really mourn and cannot have a traditional funeral,” Brown said. “It’s tough, and I want the families to know that.”

The Dive Team is a joint effort of the Newton County Sheriff’s Office, Newton County Fire Services, Covington Fire Department, Georgia Department of Natural Resources Law Enforcement, and Georgia Emergency Management Agency, Jett said.
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A joint state and local water rescue team works to find two possible drowning victims this week in the Alcovy River at Factory Shoals Park. — Newton County Sheriff's Office
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A Newton County sheriff's deputy kept the public from entering Factory Shoals Park while a search team looked for two possible drowning victims Wednesday. - photo by Tom Spigolon
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The Alcovy River runs under Newton Factory Bridge Road near Factory Shoals Park in south Newton County. - photo by Tom Spigolon
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From left, Newton County Sheriff's Office public information officer Caitlin Jett and Sheriff Ezell Brown talk to reporters Tuesday, Aug. 13, about the drowning incident.