Father says 911 recording raises questions about son's drowning


A month after Chance Werner, 18, of Euharlee drowned in Lake Allatoona during a boat party, his father has more questions than answers.

Fred Werner said the recording of the 911 call made May 24 leads him to believe someone other than his son is to blame.

Fighting and yelling can be heard throughout much of the 19 minute call to Bartow County 911.

One partygoer can be heard yelling, "[y]our ass is going to (expletive) jail. Stupid son of a (expletive)."

"That 911 tape is gut wrenching, heartbreaking," said Werner who believes someone intentionally tried to hurt his son.

A microphone on a responding officer recorded a witness asking, "[a]m I facing any charges?" The officer responded, "I don't think so."

Witnesses explained that the drowning happened while they were playing a game, pushing a shopping cart with someone in it off the dock and into the lake. A rope was tied to the cart to keep it from sinking. The other end of the rope, which one witness said is usually tied to a pole, was tied to Chance instead.

One witness recalled, "next thing I know Chance flew by me."

The Bartow County Sheriff's Office has not arrested anyone and said the investigation is inactive while toxicology tests are processed. But Werner said he doesn't believe investigators have taken the case seriously.

Chance Werner's death certificate calls his death accidental but the elder Werner doesn't understand how police could determine that without a full investigation.

Werner said police told him they interviewed only four of the unknown number of guests at the boat party.

Bartow County investigators have not told CBS46 how many witnesses they've interviewed.

But Werner said detectives didn't interview him or any of his family members about where Chance was earlier in the evening or whether they knew if anyone wanted to hurt Chance.

"No one from the sheriff's department has approached us or contacted us. Nothing," said Werner who said numerous calls to the department have gone unanswered.

This isn't the first time the Bartow County Sheriff's Office has come under fire for its handling of a teen death investigation. CBS46 reported in 2013 that investigators ignored potentially crucial cell phone evidence in the shooting death of 13-year-old Rob Taylor by his friend. Sheriff Clark Milsap also did not present the case to the district attorney to determine whether charges should be filed. After Taylor's family pressured the district attorney, the teen shooter was charged and sentenced to probation.

"Chance did not go in that water willingly," said Werner."There are people out there who know what happened. I want people to come forward. My wife and I are in torture."

Werner said he has hired a private investigator to uncover details about what led to his son's death. He asked witnesses who have information to call (470) 955-6966.

Sheriff Milsap declined to be interviewed for the story.

Copyright 2014 WGCL-TV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.


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