Crackdown on drunken boaters amid search for missing boy

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HALL COUNTY, Ga. —

 

Rangers will be at Lake Lanier this weekend cracking down on drunken boaters.

The push comes just days after authorities said a drunken boater slammed into a pontoon boat, killing 9-year-old Jake Prince and sending his brother, 13-year-old Griffin Prince, overboard. Griffin has yet to be found after a week-long search. The crash happened near Buford Dam at Shoal Creek.

Department of Natural Resources officials have suspended their extensive search until Monday due to weekend boat traffic.

Meanwhile, rangers will be monitoring boaters this weekend as part of a national crackdown on drunken boating called Operation Dry Water.

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Although it is too busy for divers to safely comb the waters, rangers used a sonar mounted on a boat to try to pinpoint the teen's location.

"We are still looking, we are still trying to identify targets with our side scan to try make some recovery to have closure for the family," Sgt. Lee Brown of the DNR told Channel 2's Tony Thomas. " We still have two more DNR  boats that are staying in the search area that are doing shore line sweeps looking on the water."

On Friday, rangers took Channel 2 crews past the spot where Paul Bennett, 44, allegedly crashed into the Prince family. Bennett has been charged with boating under the influence.

Authorities estimated a large percent of boaters stored a cooler with some type of alcoholic beverage in them.  

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On Friday's trip, rangers found no drunken boaters but they were also looking for other safety violations.

The Springsteens, one family on the lake, said they were regulars on Lake Lanier and they are aware of the dangers.

"We don't take a chance at night. We don't ever come out at night," a family member said.

Meanwhile, rangers plan to be out in full force Saturday making sure people are being safe.

Dive teams from three counties will conduct Monday's search for Griffin.