BARTOW COUNTY, Ga. - Georgia Department of Natural Resources investigators are trying to figure out how a man fell out of his boat before it ran him over on Allatoona Lake.
The accident happened about 10:30 a.m. at Interstate 75 at the Highway 92 exit in Bartow County. DNR identified the man who died Sunday as 52-year-old Robert Lewis, of Dallas, Ga.
DNR rangers were pulling Lewis' boat out of the water when Channel 2's Rachel Stockman and photographer Joe Floccari arrived to the scene.
Stockman spoke to several witnesses about what they saw.
Barry Williams said Lewis was trying to swim back to the boat after he fell out. The boat was going
in circles and ended up running him over. Williams said by the time he and two others were able to lift Lewis out of the water, it was too late.
"He was gone," Williams said.
Officials said the boat was circling without an operator for a while, but it finally ran out of gas.
"We were fishing over at a cove and when we turned around there was a boat just going in circles," said witness Tammy Sostin. She recorded the scene on her cellphone as her family watched nearby.
Sostin said it seemed the boat had been circling for about 40 minutes before it stopped.
DNR spokesman Sgt. Mike Barr said his team made sure people in the area were safe during the ordeal.
"DNR rangers and emergency personnel cleared out the area to avoid the unmanned boat hitting another vessel or person," according to a DNR news release.
DNR examined the boat's propeller when it ran out of gas.
In cases like this, Barr said the best thing to do is look around and try to locate another area for safety. Do not swim back toward the boat.
DNR is still trying to determine how Lewis fell out of the boat and what caused his death.
Lewis' brother-in-law, Ryan Pizzolato, said he was an experienced boater who had been on the water his entire life.
Pizzolato said something must have happened to Lewis to cause him to fall off the boat, "He just didn't fall out of the boat."