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Boating Safety on Lake Lanier

For many of us who enjoy recreational water activities in Georgia, a common hot spot is Lake Lanier. The large crowds, roars of boat engines and laughter among friends and family have become a staple in our Peach State. However, no one can deny that Lake Lanier has a reputation of being dangerous and even deadly.

Lake Lanier is a manmade lake that touches portions of Gwinnett, Hall, Forsyth, Dawson and Lumpkin counties. Since 1994, more than 143 people have died at Lake Lanier. Unfortunately, this statistic has continues to rise as four (4) more lives were lost in a boating accident.

The grim statistics are maintained by the Department of Natural Resources. The Department is responsible for calculating the number of accidents, boating under the influence (BUI) charges, deaths and drownings that occur at Lake Lanier and the hundreds of other lakes in the state of Georgia (between 1994-1998 drowning statistics were not kept---therefore, these statistics are not completely accurate).

Dark clouds seemed to linger above Lake Lanier from 2011 – 2015 as it saw the most number of drownings, boating-related fatalities, BUIs and total boating incidents of all of the lakes throughout the entire state of Georgia.

  • Drownings: 32 of 65 (49.2%) happened on Lake Lanier
  • Boating fatalities:20 of 33 (60.6%) occurred on Lake Lanier
  • BUIs:265 of 584 (45.4%) were charged on Lake Lanier
  • Total boating incidents: 174 of 342 (50.8%) occurred on Lake Lanier

In recent weeks, four (4) adults lost their lives in a boating accident on Lake Lanier. Officials believe that speed may have been a factor.  The 38-foot vessel carried Anthony and Tammy Reece and Arthur and Melissa McMahan. The boat overturned near Cocktail Cove, but no other vessel was involved. No one onboard was wearing a life jacket and the Department of Natural Resources says it could take up to sixty (60) days to finalize their investigation.

It is important to recognize how dangerous boating can be; especially at high speeds or if individuals are under the influence of alcohol or other drugs. Please take every precaution before operating, or becoming a passenger on, a watercraft or vessel. Although Lake Lanier seems to be a risky place to enjoy the water, it is critical to be cautious on any body of water.

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