Local and state officials are urging residents to be safe as they take to the lake, rivers or swimming pools this July Fourth holiday weekend.
Deputy Chief Tim Satterfield with Dawson County Emergency Services said it’s most important at the pool to ensure children are supervised at all times.
“You can’t leave kids for one second,” Satterfield said. “That’s all the time it takes for something bad to happen when you’re not paying attention.”
The same rules apply on Lake Lanier, he said.
“You’ve got to know the water conditions, where you’re diving, how deep it is, especially in a big body of water like Lake Lanier,” he said.
In addition, he said, “there’s no reason to ever get out on Lake Lanier without wearing a lifejacket.”
There have already been several incidents on the lake this year.
Most recently, 15-year-old Ashley Howard of Woodstock died June 24 after being struck by a boat.
She and two others were being pulled behind a boat on an inner tube near Nix Bridge Park on June 20, when she fell off and was hit by a passing pontoon boat.
In a separate incident June 23 in Hall County, divers recovered the body of 67-year-old James David Brown of Asheville, N.C.
Brown was riding on an 18-foot ski boat on June 22 near Little Hill Park off Dawsonville Highway, near the Forsyth County line.
When the boat stopped to pick up a child being towed on an inner tube, Brown jumped into the water and never resurfaced.
A 27-year-old Lawrenceville man is believed to have drowned May 16 after sliding off a water slide on a houseboat in the lake near Six Mile Creek, east of Shady Grove Campground in Forsyth County.
The body of Rohan Mathew has not been found, though authorities spent about 12 days and more than 1,200 man hours searching.
According to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, there have been 57 boating incidents statewide this year.
Those have resulted in 27 injuries and 10 boating incident-related fatalities. In addition, there have been 22 drownings on public waters.
In a June 28 news release, Col. Homer Bryson, division chief of law enforcement for the DNR, said boaters should not allow “interest in having a great time deter [them] from being vigilant for the safety of passengers.”
Satterfield said boaters should be aware that “just like driving on the road, you’ve got to know all of the rules.”
“A lot of people don’t know the rules of the lake,” he said.