Barr reported that the Friday through Sunday effort was a success with no deaths or serious boat crashes with injuries reported on Allatoona Lake.
“We did have a boat crash that DNR Ranger Zack Hardy and DNR Cpl. Byron Young responded to on Friday,” Barr said.
The rangers reported that a run-a-bout boat traveling in front of the dam next to the Park Marine marina lost control of the boat and hit the marina seawall causing significant damage to the seawall and the vessel.
“Several young children were onboard but were wearing their life jackets as is required by law for children under the age of 13. The boat was immediately removed from the water as it was taking on water, but no one was hurt in the incident,” according to Barr.
On Saturday, DNR and the Corps teamed up for boating safety checks in the main channel in front of Park Marine. A water “road-block” was in place and DNR patrol boats and the Corps patrol boats stopped every third vessel and directed it to the gas dock at Park Marine. DNR and Corps rangers then completed a quick check of the vessel’s safety equipment and registration.
Around 6:27 p.m., U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Park Ranger Chris Purvis attempted to stop a Yamaha ski boat. The boat went past Purvis and continued north. Purvis activated both his blue lights and siren, and DNR Sgt. Mike Barr also went to the area as it appeared the vessel was not going to stop.
The operator finally stopped and was directed into the boating safety checkpoint. Once at the checkpoint, DNR Ranger Zack Hardy immediately noticed that the operator had a strong odor of alcohol, was unsteady, and had glassy eyes. The operator admitted to drinking. Field sobriety exercises further determined that the operator was impaired. The operator was placed under arrest and served with a boating suspension notice. The operator was transported to the Bartow County Jail by a Bartow County Sheriff’s Office deputy.
Barr reported that approximately 31 vessels completed safety checks and only one impaired operator was discovered.
“Boat operators are beginning to understand the importance of having a designated operator, the high expense of fines and court, and how a loss of boating privileges can impact their ability to enjoy boating for a year after arrest. We encourage every boater to consider the negative impact of boating under the influence,” said Barr.
DNR officers also are encouraging boaters to have approved life jackets.
Drowning is the reported cause of death in more than three-fourths of boating accident fatalities nationwide, with 88 percent of victims not wearing a life jacket. Georgia boaters are required to have a U.S. Coast Guard approved life jacket for every person on board and children under age 13 are required to wear one at all times on a moving vessel.
Life jacket safety, the 100-foot law, minimum age limits for boat operators and boating under the influence — these are just a few examples of topics taught in a boater education course. Beginning today, all potential vessel operators born on or after Jan. 1, 1998, are required to have completed a boater education course before taking a boat out on the water. Courses are available online, in a classroom or as a home study course. For more info or to find a course, visit gadnrle.org.
For more information on safe boating or to take a safe boating course, visit www.goboatgeorgia.com.