18-year-old turns self in after Lake Lanier hit-and-run

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HALL COUNTY, Ga. —

Police said the suspect in a hit-and-run boating crash that injured two people at Lake Lanier turned himself in late Saturday night.

The 18-year-old Hall County resident told investigators he was out on the water and hit something, but didn't know what it was.

The crash happened near Old Federal Park in Flowery Branch. A young man and woman on board, both in their early 20s, called 911 just after midnight Saturday, said Sgt. Mike Burgamy of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources.

Investigators said the father of the teen, who police have not identified, heard the story on WSB Radio. The father went to the family's garage to check his boat and then confronted his son.

The suspect told investigators he and a friend were out fishing. Investigators are still trying to locate the passenger and get a statement from him. They will process the suspect's boat for evidence Sunday.

DNR investigators shared the victims' account with Channel 2 Action News.

"The one victim sitting in the passenger side said they didn't see any boats out there before (the crash) happened, then all of a sudden, (the suspect's) boat ran over them and (they) didn't see any boats after that," Burgamy told Channel 2's Steve Gehlbach at Lake Lanier.

The victims spent Saturday in a hospital with some cuts and broken bones. Burgamy said their watercraft, a small yellow and white Sea-Doo jet boat, is a total loss. Investigators are unsure if the victims' boat was in motion at the time of the crash, but they did say the boat's lights were on.

Investigators spent all day Saturday searching for clues and asking for the public's help in tracking down the suspect and his boat. Initially, they didn't know how big, how fast, or even what color the boat was in the crash. They alerted the public that the boat likely had a lot of yellow paint on the lower front section.

Saturday's accident on Lake Lanier comes on the first day of boating season in metro Atlanta. Meanwhile, state rangers said they will be enforcing two new boating laws.

The first requires anyone 12 or younger to wear a life jacket. The second states that the boating under the influence level has been reduced to .08, the same as for operating a car.

The DNR warns boaters to look for a large public safety presence on local waters this season.

Officials said there has already been at least one boating under the influence arrest this weekend after a boater failed a field sobriety test at Lake Lanier. It's unrelated to the hit-and-run involving the injured couple.