Labor Day Boating Incidents on Lake Lanier

Authorities patrolled Lake Lanier over Labor Day. ~~  Photograph by Robert Sutherland
Authorities patrolled Lake Lanier over Labor Day. ~~ Photograph by Robert Sutherland

Rick Lavender of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources provided this preliminary boating information report to

This report contains statewide statistics and has specific totals for incidents on Lake Lanier over the Labor Day holiday weekend, August 31-September 2, 2013.


  • Drownings – 1
  • Boating Under the Influence (BUI) – 18
  • Boating Incidents – 6
  • Boating Incident-related Injuries – 1
  • Boating Incident-related Fatalities – 2
  • Alcohol Involved – 0

Lake Lanier

  • Drownings – 0
  • Boating Under the Influence (BUI) – 6
  • Boating Incidents – 2
  • Boating Incident-related Injuries – 0
  • Boating Incident-related Fatalities – 0
  • Alcohol Involved – 0


There were three deaths on public waters in Georgia. Two are considered boating-related fatalities. Brief accounts are below.

Statewide, there were four other boating incidents. Two involved personal watercraft, and one included injuries (minor).

  • A PWC operator was hurt Sunday while jumping a boat wake on the Skidaway River in Chatham County. The operator was taken to Memorial Hospital in Savannah with a cut on his forehead.
  • At Lake Lanier, a PWC hit a metal object in the water in the mouth of Shoal Creek Sunday, puncturing a hole in the hull and throwing the operator into the windshield.
  • As for BUIs, DNR rangers reported 18 statewide, including six at Lanier, two on Lake Sinclair, and one each at lakes Oconee, West Point,  Clark’s Hill and Jackson. The BUI total for the holiday weekend is up compared to 2012 (six BUIs) and 2011 (nine).



A 23-year-old Atlanta man died Sunday after jumping off a boat near the Red Top Mountain State Park swim beach, according to the DNR Law Enforcement Division. Nicholas Alexander was with a group of family on a rental boat near the rock jetty, about 75 feet from shore, when he jumped in at about 5 p.m.  He seemed at first to be OK, then began to struggle and went under. Two people on shore tried unsuccessfully to reach him. His body was recovered at 6:18 p.m. Sunday in about 30 feet of water. The search and recovery included DNR, Bartow County Fire/EMA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.


The body of an Atlanta man who died Sunday afternoon in Amicalola Creek near Dawsonville was recovered at 12:53 p.m. Monday, according to the DNR Law Enforcement Division. Ramiro Ponce-Ruiz, 45, was swimming with family and friends at Devil’s Elbow on Dawson Forest Wildlife Management Area when witnesses said he swam into the pool, dove, came back up and began to struggle. A diver with the Dawson County dive team found his body, ending a search that began Sunday. The recovery included DNR, the Dawson County Sheriff’s Office and Fire Department, Dawson’s dive team, and Cherokee County divers. Hall County Sheriff’s Office divers were preparing to help Monday.


The body of a 61-year-old man who went missing Saturday afternoon on the Savannah River near Augusta was recovered at about 9:30 a.m. Sunday in the river, according to the DNR Law Enforcement Division. Ralph Edward Taylor of Augusta was paddling in a kayak with two companions, also in kayaks. The two went around the side of an island where the rapids were more challenging. Taylor went down the other side. The companions later spotted his empty kayak. A Richmond County Water Rescue dive team member found his body in the water the next morning. The investigation is continuing. The search included DNR and the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office and Fire Department.

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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