Exclusive: CBS Atlanta dives with rescue team at Lake Lanier - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Exclusive: CBS Atlanta dives with rescue team at Lake Lanier

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BUFORD, GA (CBS46) -

Friday was day 4 of the underwater search for 13-year-old Griffin Prince and divers are going to suspend the search for the weekend.

Those rescue divers are searching in what has been described as treacherous conditions. Only CBS Atlanta's Wendy Saltzman went scuba diving in Lake Lanier with Forsyth County's rescue team.  

She suited up to show you the conditions they are dealing with and they took underwater video you will see only on CBS Atlanta News.

"Ninety-five percent of the time, I can barley feel the hand in front of my face," said Forsyth County rescue diver Johnny Capps.

Capps has done dozens of dives like the one to recover Prince.

"You have to feel [with your hands]. You do search patterns and feel. Feel instead of look," Capps said.

Hall County is leading the dangerous search.

"We have literally had two divers who have been caught up in branches, one for as much as five minutes before he was able to free himself. You can imagine you are 80 to 90 feet down, you are in pitch-black darkness, you cannot see and you are impaled on a branch," said Maj. Woodrow Trip with the Hall County Sheriff's Office.

Divers in this recovery effort are often searching in depths exceeding 70 feet.

"You start getting into depths that can certainly be very dangerous. Very little bottom time as you start to get that deep, four to six minutes at the most," Trip said.

In 1956, a community under what is now Lake Lanier was purposely flooded to control raging storm waters.        

"There are actually bridges under there. You will run into cars, you'll find houses. Sometimes tombstones, grave sites," Capps said.

And this underwater city is full of tree tops and other hazards that rescue teams are fighting as they search for Prince.

"There are very few divers who are actually comfortable dropping down into a forest," Capps explained.

But perhaps the greatest difficulty is the murky water. Divers have to search using sonars and - with such limited visibility - their hands.

"You can't see literally to the point of taking a light to your mask and not being able to see that light, because of the silt and the darkness," Trip said.

"Most of the time I have to feel, because I cannot see. So you feel, so your search patterns are very narrow to make sure you don't miss anything," Capps said.

You could see from Saltzman's underwater video that it's very hard to see even in shallow areas. It's basically like diving in mud. And the deeper down you go, the colder it gets, and you can't see anything.

The underwater treeline is so dangerous, teams didn't want to take Saltzman down there because they could have gotten caught in those trees, and they didn't want anyone else being a victim.

The search will resume Monday.

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