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SPEAK OUT: Is It Safe on Lake Lanier?

Several recent accidents at the resort area have resulted in death and injury. Share your thoughts.

Updated July 8

Unfortunately, it hasn't been hard lately to find bad news involving Lake Lanier, Atlanta's aquatic playground.

On June 18, a two-boat collision late at night left a Buford youth, 9, dead and his brother, 13, missing. A Cumming man has been charged with boating under the influence in connection with the case. (The missing youth was recovered by divers, and the youths' funeral was held July 3 in Suwanee.)

Do you feel safe on Lake Lanier now? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

And not long before that, , apparently due to a mistake by a boat operator.

who were being pulled by a boat. Reports say one of the youths was the stepson of superstar entertainer Usher. Both youths reportedly are in critical condition.

Of course, Lake Lanier and its resort areas are a weekend haven for Suwanee, Gwinnett County and metro Atlanta. Boating in particular is popular. And the July 4 holiday weekend is nearing, meaning use will be higher than ever then.

But do you feel safe on Lanier after all this? Should you and others go near the water? Will you alter your plans because of these recent incidents?

"I had seven grandchildren. I have five now," said businessman Mike Prince Sr., who was in Florida on business when his wife called to tell him about the fatal accident. His son, daughter-in-law and grandson Ryan are inconsolable, he told the Atlanta-Journal Constitution.

Should nighttime boating be banned? Should law enforcement and Department of Natural Resources officials enact new regulations to ensure visitor safety at Lanier?

Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Compiled by Steve Burns.

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Nick Mari July 09, 2012 at 03:48 PM
Every death is truly tragic.
Nick Mari July 09, 2012 at 03:49 PM
Boat lic is a must . I took the DNR boaters course great info and training . Now if we could require everyone to take it before they can drive a boat I think that would help. Driving a car is not the same as a boat or jetski.
Nick Mari July 09, 2012 at 03:50 PM
I agree totally Gary.
Nick Mari July 09, 2012 at 03:57 PM
drinking and driving anything isnt responsible im sorry. I took the DNR course that was 3 days 4 hours a day and it did me alot of good .
stormin July 09, 2012 at 05:07 PM
The recent accidents are truly tragic, but I am disturbed by the knee-jerk reactions on here. Lake Lanier is safe if you use some common sense and recognize that...just like the roads...there are some fools out there and you have to be vigilent. Licensing wouldn't change anything, but enforcement of the current rules would help. Licensing is simply a fund raiser for the gov't. Perhaps, if all license fees went 100% toward on-water safety, I'd be for it, but unfortunately, the fees would simply go into the general coffers like the fishing license fees. Lake Lanier is perfectly safe if you use some common sense and practice defensive driving. There are many inconsiderate boaters, but as captain it is your job to watch out for those idiots, just like when driving a car.
Sarah Westbrook July 09, 2012 at 05:21 PM
There isn't any amount of money that would get me on that Lake. NO it isn't safe, no matter how you are going to use it. DON'T ruin or take your life by getting in that water. It is a death certificate already written with your name on it.
stormin July 09, 2012 at 05:24 PM
I have spoken with Ga DNR officers on several occasions. Many of these comments make it sound like they are not doing their jobs. My experience with them has always been that they are very concerned with safety and are doing an outstanding job with limited resources. Its a big lake and while there could certainly be more focus on safe boat piloting, I would rather not live in a society with law enforcement at the every turn on the lake. Hold lawbreakers accountable, but let's not turn the lake into a nanny state either.
stormin July 09, 2012 at 05:39 PM
When I mentioned knee jerk reactions, this is exactly what I was referring to. I'm on the lake about 60 days a year and I know it is safer than driving through downtown if you use appropriate caution. Sarah, how do you know its not safe if you aren't willing to see it firsthand? Im sorry you are so fearful, but I know the media has ginned up your unwarranted fear with their constant droning about the tragic accidents. There must have been 30 articles about the boys that were killed and that was a horrible tragedy, but wall to wall coverage of such stories only serves to give people an unrealistic view of what is really happening on the lake.
Greg Pitchfork July 09, 2012 at 06:10 PM
I will be on the lake today as I was yesterday and the days the last two accidents happened.
Greg Pitchfork July 09, 2012 at 06:16 PM
Speeding boats especially Go Fast boats do not put out a big wake at all. Big Cruisers going slow do. Bunch of paranoid people here about going on the lake. I feel MUCH safer on Lake Lanier than driving through downtown Atlanta or down 400 during rush hour.
Greg Pitchfork July 09, 2012 at 06:22 PM
Well some people can control themselves and be responsible with a drink in their hand. I have never been drunk or even close too it on the lake. It is perfectly legal in GA to have a beer in hand while driving a boat. I know all the rules of boating on Lanier and from what I have seen it is much safer than 400 or I285. BTW I am going home after work and driving my lawn tractor with a beer and I'll on the lake afterwards with a beer as well.
Nick Mari July 09, 2012 at 06:52 PM
Im sorry sir I politely disagree that operating a boat under the influence of any amount of alcohol is safe or advisable. But I dont drink and drive anything its just not worth the risk to me.
Nick Mari July 09, 2012 at 06:54 PM
I agree with you stormin if we did require a lic it should all go toward water safety!
Nick Mari July 09, 2012 at 06:56 PM
I wouldnt go that far Sarah I live on the lake and am out on it as much as possible . I just know the trouble spots and try to avoid them as much as possible . But I also have 20 years boating exp
Nick Mari July 09, 2012 at 07:01 PM
Way to many drinkers behind the wheel Im all for a good time but drinking and driving a boat dont mix!
stormin July 09, 2012 at 08:28 PM
Me too Greg. I'll wave. (Im one of those old school boaters who feels the need to wave at all passing boats.) This whole issue reminds me of the drought, when the media had everyone convinced there wasn't a drop of water in the lake and boating was impossible. I was out there then too. Sad that people read 50 different media accounts of a single incident and assume that the sky is falling.
Bob Turpen July 10, 2012 at 01:54 PM
My wife and I have had a home on the Lake for the past 18 years. We don't go out on the Lake on weekends from early May thru late September. There are just too many inexperienced watercraft operators on the water. A craft operator must be constantly vigilant on the water. Many don't realize how difficult it is to see a small child in choppy water! One small innocent mistake can haunt you a lifetime.
Peggy Attaway July 10, 2012 at 02:46 PM
My husband and I are recreational kayakers and we downloaded the no-wake, no-boats areas and found out very quickly that it is not worth the paper it's written on. We take our kayaks to the Clarks Bridge rowing center which is clearly for the canoes, kayakers and small jon-boat folks and it's not even safe there.. For every 5 boats that pass through at idle speed, one will come through wide open. We were at Van Pugh last night (not in the boats) but just picnicking and we saw a small yellow jet ski running wide open as close to the shore as he could get...within feet of people in the designated, roped off swimming area. It's not even safe for people to swim in the swimming areas. On the 4th of July, I will say that we were quite pleased to see Forsyth County out on their boat and also walking the shoreline on horses. We were able to kayak a little in the areas around Westbank for the swimmers with no problems but I would not even consider getting beyond the shallow shore line on the lake...and Mr. Pitchfork, hopefully, you will continue to remain unaffected by others actions. Since you are such a safe boater with worldly knowledge of boating, perhaps you could be the voice of concern and get involved in legislating some change? It is apparent not everyone agrees with you and belittling others opinions is simply what keeps the problem...well a problem.
Martha Levy July 10, 2012 at 03:57 PM
I have a houseboat on a breakfront dock at Lazy Days and I see the idiocy first-hand every single day - from the relative safety of the dock. All kinds of boats roll full-tilt through our no-wake zone without a care in the world. (For those readers who don't know, wake causes both the moored boats and the dock to bounce around and can cause significant damage.) The jet skis are a large part of the problem, followed closely by the large cruisers and bow riders. Anyone with $$$ can buy a boat and drive it, with beer in hand. There's no required training, and practically no law enforcement presence. This wouldn't be such a big deal if boaters here were mostly lifelong boaters who know the rules and the lake, but at Lanier they're primarily the proverbial group of "too much money, not enough sense". There's plenty of trouble even without alcohol.
Peggy Attaway July 10, 2012 at 04:12 PM
Well said Martha..It was reported that this past Sunday a boat with several passengers on it near Balus Creek was completely submerged by a passing boat that swamped their boat..Another passing boat had to pick up those who were knocked off their boat. We are seeing the fatalities reported which do not include the close calls, near misses or accidents that simply don't involve someone being killed. We watched an idiot at Long Hollow last week on a jet ski near the boat ramp pulling small kids (maybe 3 and 5) on a tube behind him. He was doing all kinds of crazy zig-zagging, swinging, slinging those kids everywhere. At one point, the smallest child was almost ejected off the tube. Am I concerned about the kids..Sure enough am.. I worked for a major pediatric hospital here in Atlanta as a RN for years.. This stuff is real.
Greg Pitchfork July 10, 2012 at 06:33 PM
Legislating can't fix stupid and the lack of common sense. 100' distance rule is easy and simple to follow but yet people can't follow that one simple rule. Yes more LEOs need to be on the lake but budget cuts have killed that dream. Drivers on 400 have a license and yet I see drivers weaving in and out of heavy traffic and nothing is slowing them down until they rear-end another car or end up under a tractor trailer. It take common sense and knowing a few rules of the water to be a good courteous boater. I do not want to lose my right to have a beer on the lake because other boaters screw up and ruin it for the rest of us. Another site: "Dnr reported 109 boating accidents and 11 fatalities in 2011" "out of over 7.5 million visitors a year (per wikipedia). so the accident rate is about .0014 % and death rate is .000015%. i'd say those are pretty awesome statistics. when you start dealing with that volume, accidents are inevitable, and that rate is far better than the 70 car accidents per hour that occur on average in the state. even if you back that number down to only 500,000 boat involved visits, you're looking at ridiculously low statistics. "
Lake Lanier Lover July 10, 2012 at 06:33 PM
stormin, I agree with a lot of your comments, but think education of the rules would go a long way. I can't help but think that if the jet ski rider had followed the 100 foot rule, he would not have run over the children on the tubes. We have a place on the lake and love being on the lake, but like Nick, we tend to avoid the trouble spots.
Tom Kuipers July 10, 2012 at 06:59 PM
It's simply irresponsible to have even one beer and captain a boat. I've been on a boat owner on Lanier for 23 years now and have seen some crazy stuff, I don't dare have a drop out there, and I love my beer but I love my family much more. The DNR has to make it mandatory for all boat operators to take a boat safety course before getting behind the wheel of any power boat or jet ski/waverunner. The problem is simply this: there's too many folks out there that don't know how to captain a boat, mandatory boat safety courses will teach people the 100' rule and who has the right of way, and how to practice common sense while behind the wheel. Accidents happen, but much of the idiocy on the lake is due to careless operators who do not know what they're doing
Peggy Attaway July 10, 2012 at 07:11 PM
Greg..I would speculate that 7.5 million visitors a year does not only represent the boaters but those who never go in or near the water utilizing the hiking trails, picnic areas, camping, Lake Lanier resorts, etc. so before we can speculate on statistics (my husband is a data analyst so I have learned that all numbers must be correctly analyzed with facts) we need to know how many actually get on the water....Second, in IMHO, one death is too many and I suspect you would feel the same if it were your family member.
Rk July 11, 2012 at 02:41 PM
I have been a boat owner for over thirty eight years most of them in Florida which I will say is a better place to boat. People take pride in their boating skills and actually to teach other boaters and police the water ways. I have seen Idiots like the ones mentioned above and sometimes can not believe what I see. When and where people think it is a good idea to pull a tube or operate jet skis. Lake Lanier is a great lake, its the people who need to be trained and it will only happen by the responsible boaters flagging the idiots calling them out. The vessels aren't the problem its the people. Jets skiers who have no experience should be allowed to operate in a designated area far away from other boats. All of the accidents are from inexperience. If I stand at a boat launch I can tell you with in a minute who should be asked questioned and handed a instruction book and be warned of what they are doing and the seriousness of operating a power vessel.
Billy Bob July 13, 2012 at 06:12 PM
Six people in a small boat? LOL! It's a wonder it didn't swamp at the pier!
Billy Bob July 13, 2012 at 06:31 PM
Take the Coast Guard Auxiliary's Boating Safety Course It's fun and VERY informative. http://cgaux.org/boatinged/class_finder/index.php Also, get a copy of "Chapman Piloting & Seamanship (Chapman Piloting, Seamanship and Small Boat Handling)" - aka: The Boater's Bible
Chuck Snow July 13, 2012 at 09:06 PM
The few safe boat operators on Lanier are far outnumbered by idiots on the water who drink and endanger not only the other boat operators but put their own children and passengers in danger. I haven't been on Lake Lanier in the summer in several years and have no plans on doing so. It's bad enough on the streets and highways around Atlanta, without pushing your luck on Lanier There needs to be more enforcement . We spent the week of the4th in Fort Myers Beach and saw Marine Patrol in action, We saw several taken into custody,,, something you seldom,, if ever see on Lanier. And many boats were boarded and checked including ours You see more stupidity on Lanier on any summer saturday than you'll see in months on the water in SWFL.
Andy D July 17, 2012 at 04:03 AM
Education is paramount in all that we do boating is no exception. I am not one who advocates giving more power to government to protect us from ourselves. However some type of boater education should be mandatory for all new boat owners. Maybe when you register your boat you need proof of a boater education course in order to register your boat. And if you are given a citation within the first year you should be made to take it again before you are allowed to return to the lake. Because they sure did not learn anything the first time. I am a 30 year boater and been on Lanier for 7 years about 2 days a week. I have seen a lot of boaters who just do not know the rules. I get cut off at least once every time I go out. Also jet skis jumping my wake. I was coming home from Aqualand one night about 30 mph to a small fishing boat sitting in the middle of the channel with no lights on. He turned on his anchor light when I was 100 yards from him. If everyone followed the rules everyone would be safe.
Heather McDaniel July 30, 2012 at 01:24 PM
How can I help get Usher involved? What reporting agencies will investigate? How can a community get involved? I am concerned for the safety if my son. I want to help!! Several things can take place here, and do we see any measures taken that help? I am outraged!!!

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