Lake Lanier’s Media Circus

More than seven million people visit Lake Lanier each year.  Some are rich and famous, most are simple folks enjoying some time on or around one of Georgia’s most beautiful playgrounds.

When there are drownings or accidents we grieve with those involved and we pull together to make Lake Lanier as safe as possible.

We deeply regret the tragic accident that took place last Friday afternoon, July 6, 2012, when a man riding a Jet Ski hit two children in an inner-tube being pulled by a pontoon boat.

News reports identified one of the children as the stepson of a famous R&B singer.

That’s when the media circus came to town.

Media Circus

Reputable media sources, such as Reuters, the Chicago Tribune and a zillion less trustworthy outlets began spreading rumors and writing stories with “facts” that only became facts after being printed by other members of the media circus.

Click Here for the Sourceless Story from the Chicago Tribune

Do I believe this is part of some vast scheme for the media to take over the world?  No.  I leave that nonsense to old men in diners who mumble and grumble about politics and liberals.

Instead of joining the hyperbole of websites and writers who are paid to report “the news” even when there isn’t any news, we present to you the dull facts about this boating accident from reputable, named sources.

Quotes from Hospitals and Doctors

My father spent the last several years of his life in a variety of hospitals.  When I contacted these hospitals to check on his condition, I had to provide a Personal Identification Number that proved I had the right to inquire about my dad’s health.  If I could not provide his special code, they would not and did not tell me anything about whether he was a patient or his condition.

It is not possible for TMZ or MTV or Rolling Stone to call Egelston Children’s Hospital in Atlanta and have a doctor tell them over the phone that a patient has been declared “brain dead.”  That would be against the law and would subject any informer to immediate dismissal.

Prior to writing this story, I called Egelston Children’s Hospital to confirm their well-known policy of not providing patient information.  I called all the numbers listed on this webpage.  Did they provide me with all kinds of “scoops” that would impress Lois Lane and Clark Kent?  Nope.  They don’t even answer their phones.  Go ahead, Sherlock.  Try it yourself.

Could a healthcare worker be bribed or do something stupid?  Sure.

Can fancy news media get information from secret sources?  Sure.

Can these sources be trusted?  Who knows?

While writing this story I received a call from Nick Baggett, natural resource manager for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at Lake Lanier.  He confirmed that hospitals are “guarded” and often prevented from giving him or his staff information on the medical condition of accident victims.

What We Know for Sure

Georgia’s Department of Natural Resources Public Affairs Coordinator Melissa Cummings sent press releases about the Jet Ski accident. has a copy of the original boating Basic Incident Information Form completed by Sgt. Mike Burgamy of Georgia’s DNR.

The date and time of the accident were listed as 3:25 PM, EDT, on Friday, July 6, 2012.

The report includes the name of the Jet Ski driver, Jeffrey S. Hubbard, and his home address, which we choose not to report.

Among the boxes checked on the report are those which indicate that alcohol was not involved and that charges are pending.  The number of injuries was listed as two.  In the space provided for the number of fatalities, the word “pending” was typed in.

An attachment to Sgt. Burgamy’s Incident Report stated:

“On 07/06/12, at approximately 1525 hours, a personal watercraft being operated by Jeffrey S. Hubbard ran over 2 juveniles being towed on an inner tube by a pontoon boat. Both children were life-flighted to Egleston Children’s Hospital of Atlanta, one with  a serious head injury. This incident occurred in the mouth of Big Creek, Lake Lanier, Hall County.”

News vs Rumors

Our goal is to report trustworthy information about Lake Lanier that we believe is of interest to you. will publish the facts of this and other news stories, as they are confirmed.

We happily leave rumors and hearsay to others instead of joining the jugglers and the clowns in the media circus.

Click Here for’s Jet Ski Accident Story

About Author

Robert J. Sutherland is a travel writer enjoying life in Gainesville, GA.
Robert has two adult daughters, seven practically perfect grandchildren and a zippy Kawasaki. Contact Robert at [email protected].

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