A young boy almost lost his leg while tubing on Lake Lanier over the weekend. According to authorities, a propeller cut the right leg of an 11-year-old while on the lake on Saturday around 2:45 p.m.
"We responded to the area of Little River Park in Hall County on Lake Lanier where we made contact with the victim and his family," said Sgt. Mike Burgamy, supervisor of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources (DNR) at Lake Lanier. "He was tubing, fell off the tube, was attempting to get back into the boat when he slipped off the ladder and his leg made contact with the prop."
The operator of the boat mistakenly thought the boat was in neutral. Authorities said no charges will be filed, however, and no alcohol was involved.
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“He was life-flighted to Egleston,” said David Allen, a spokesman with DNR. “He had surgery to fix his leg on Saturday and is expected to make a full recovery.”
With summer almost here and boating season kicking into high gear, officials at the DNR urge caution when on area lakes. According to a press release from the DNR, there were 109 boating accidents and 11 boating related fatalities in 2011 in Georgia. There has already been a fatal boating accident on Lake Lanier this year. Authorities ask that boat operators remember the law when it comes to boating under the influence. In 2011, there were 168 BUI arrests on area lakes. The DNR put out a warning to people just prior to the Memorial Day Weekend, which traditionally kicks off the boating season in Georgia.
“We know that many people will be on the water with family and friends during the upcoming holiday weekend,” Col. Eddie Henderson, Chief of Law Enforcement, said in the release. “In an effort to keep everyone safe, we encourage boat operators to stay sober and alert and know Georgia’s boating laws before heading out on the water.”
DNR offers the following safety rules for boat and personal watercraft (PWC) operators:
- Designate an operator. Do not drink and operate a boat.
- Take a boating safety course. Visit the DNR Web site for course listings.
- Wear a life jacket. Children under 10 years of age are required by law to wear a life jacket while onboard a moving boat, but it’s recommended for EVERYONE to wear a life jacket.
- Don’t overload your boat with people or equipment. Check on the capacity plate for the maximum weight or the maximum number of people the boat can safely carry.
- Use navigation lights at ALL times when on the water at night. Check lights before it gets dark.
- Watch your speed. The 100-foot law applies to ALL size vessels and prohibits operation at speeds greater than idle speed within 100 feet of any vessel, unless overtaking or meeting another vessel in compliance with the rules of the road.
PWC operators also should be aware of these additional safety rules:
- Do NOT jump the wake of another boat.
- Pay attention to your surroundings and make sure you stay well clear of other vessels.
- Know Georgia’s age requirements for PWC operation.
- Make sure everyone who operates your PWC is aware of boating laws and how to safely operate a PWC. As the owner, you can be held responsible.
For more information, visit the Georgia DNR Web site.
Liz Kennedy contributed to this article.