Officials worried about high number of deaths on Lake Lanier so far this year

FORSYTH COUNTY, Ga. — Activists along Lake Lanier don't like the way the numbers are adding up. There have been nine fatalities on the water since January and another big holiday weekend yet to come.

The president of the Lake Lanier Association told Channel 2's Berndt Petersen that there's no shortage of safe boating classes, but there is a shortage of participants.

They say the No. 1 way to limit the number of deaths is with life jackets.

John Barker has been boating on Lake Lanier for nearly 20 years. He's afraid of how this year might be remembered.

"If the trend continues, we will have a very large number of fatalities to deal with at the end of the season," Barker said.

Of the nine deaths on the lake, two were boating accidents and seven were drownings.


"Anyone can get into trouble at any time. You can get a mouthful of water and you can start to panic," said Jennifer Flowers with the Lake Lanier Association.

The group has tried to push for more life jacket use on the lake and boating safety courses.

Barker told Petersen there are lots of courses for boaters, but few taking them.

He said the ones who do tend to be the most conscientious boaters to begin with.

Barker said the Department of Natural Resources is doing all it can to enforce the rules on the water.

But while everyone aboard a boat must have a life jacket, anyone older than 13 doesn't have to wear it.

"You got to stay with it. You got to continue to educate and provide information to people and hope someday they'll see the value of what you're trying to tell them,” Barker said.

DNR said there will be nearly 12 million visitors to Lake Lanier this year. That's up 25% from just two years ago.