Although there were two drownings on public water this weekend, none occurred on Lake Allatoona or other area bodies of water. Officials with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources did confirm there were three boating under the influence violations and three boating incidents on Lake Allatoona.
“It was a very busy weekend,” said DNR Sgt. Mike Barr. “I pulled in more rangers from around the northwest region of the state than normal to work the lake with us. We coordinated activities with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and we had several events.
“We had three BUI arrests over the holiday weekend on Allatoona, we had three boating incidents — two of them were with PWCs, both of which had injuries — and we had a bass boat capsize.”
The two injuries on Allatoona this weekend both resulted from personal watercraft incidents — most commonly jet skis. While neither injury was life threatening, the most serious injury was to the left arm of a 19-year-old PWC passenger.
“Sunday, May 26, at approximately 1:01 p.m., Bartow County, Allatoona Lake, Highway 41 Day Use area. Corp of Engineers Rangers witnessed two PWCs jumping the wake of a boat and attempted to stop the PWCs,” said DNR Communication Specialist Melissa Cummings in a press release. “While doing so, one PWC stopped and the other was not paying attention and ran into the first PWC. One PWC operated by a
60-year-old white male, the other operated by a 29-year-old female with a 19-year-old passenger. The 19-year-old passenger was injured in the left arm during the crash.
“The family decided to refuse on-site medical and ambulance assistance and to transport the 19-year-old to the hospital themselves. The male operator was charged with a violation of the 100-foot law.”
The other injury resulting from a PWC incident on Allatoona was first reported as a severe injury, but the victim was released from an area hospital with only bruising. The victim was on Allatoona with a friend, also traveling on a PWC, when they were allegedly approached by a third PWC in what is assumed was an attempt to spray the victim with water. The third PWC struck the victim instead and left the scene. DNR officials are investigating the accident and are still searching for the third boater.
The third boating incident on Allatoona this weekend was a capsized boat, which occurred near Red Top State Mountain Park when a bass boat experiencing an equipment malfunction was overtaken by a larger vessel. The wake from the larger vessel swamped the bass boat, causing it to take on water, overturn and sink. The two occupants of the bass boat were unharmed.
Also occurring on the lake Sunday was a report of a missing 15-year-old girl at Red Top Mountain State Park, who was found with help from DNR rangers, state park rangers and Bartow County Sheriff’s Office deputies.
Throughout the course of the Memorial Day weekend, DNR rangers routinely made safety checks of vessels on the water enforcing new and old regulations. This year saw the decrease of blood-alcohol content allowed for boat operators and the increase of age limits for life jacket requirements in a moving vessel. Historically, children ages 10 and younger have been required to wear a life jacket while a vessel is in operation. Now state law requires any child under the age of 13 to wear a life jacket.
“The good news is that there were no drownings and no deaths related to boating incidents over the weekend, so that is a happy end for us,” Barr said. “But we did have a lot of boating violations of all sorts of situations, but the majority of problems we ran into over the weekend were children required to have life jackets that didn’t have them on. Because of this new law change, children in the 10 to 13 age group we educated and gave verbal advice, but we had a lot of children under the age of 10 without their life jackets on and those people got tickets.”
Barr also credited new laws for keeping impaired boaters off the water. Rangers encountered many vessels on Allatoona this weekend operating with a designated operator as is recommended. The boating safety law that went into effect earlier this month lowers the alcohol limit from 0.10 to 0.08 to match that of motor vehicle operation.
Three BUI arrests were made on Allatoona over the weekend, while 10 were made on Lake Lanier, seven in the DNR Thomson region, seven in the DNR Macon region, five in the DNR Albany region, two on the Altamaha River and five in the DNR’s coastal Brunswick region.
“The 0.10 to 0.08 change had a factor in incidents around the state and just more attention to boating under the influence around the state,” Barr said. “The weather was there, people were there, boating activity was there and the rangers were there — and normally that indicates that the BUI risk is there. So we were fortunate that we only had three.”
The Georgia State Patrol confirmed to The Daily Tribune News that no motor vehicle incidents resulted in fatalities on northwest Georgia roads this Memorial Day weekend. Incident totals for the state were not available as of press time Tuesday.