Headline: While some Georgia counties had a quiet Fourth of July holiday, it was sadly not the case statewide. However, arrests and fatalities were down from last year.
Law enforcement certainly had their hands full this past weekend. Statewide, the Georgia State Patrol reported 302 DUI arrests, 571 wrecks with 303 injuries and four fatalities, 10,000 citations and 16,332 warnings, according to spokeswoman Tracey Watson. DUI arrests and fatalities were down significantly from last year.
On Georgia waterways statewide, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources rangers reported 36 cases of individuals boating under the influence, 11 incidents, 10 injuries, and one fatality.
The sole boating fatality of the weekend occurred Sunday morning near Little Tybee Island. A couple had been camping on a small hammock for the weekend, and while they were coming off the boat, a wave capsized the vessel. A 52-year-old man drowned and his body was recovered. The Coast Guard airlifted the other party involved to a hospital. According to Georgia Department of Natural Resources, she had no apparent injuries.
The other major boating incident occurred moments after the fireworks show at the Allatoona Yacht Club, on the Cherokee and Bartow County border, at the mouth of Illinois Creek.
According to witnesses, a Chaparral ski boat driven by Joseph S. Tofil, 50, of Canton, came up behind a Maxum cabin cruiser, hit the back of it, and then went up and over it. Reports say that five people were injured, including a 4-month-old child. Mark McKinnon, an officer with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, reports that none of the injuries from the boating accident were life threatening, and all of the people who were injured in the crash were immediately taken to Cartersville Medical Center. The names of the victims have not yet been released.
Tofil has since been charged with Boating Under the Influence. He was one of the 36 Boating Under the Influence incidents across Georgia this past holiday weekend. DNR reports that alcohol was involved in two of the 11 boating incidents (with a total of 10 injuries). Tofil will be facing the increased Georgia Boating Under the Influence Penalties recently passed by the legislature.
On Georgia waterways statewide, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources rangers reported 36 cases of individuals boating under the influence, 11 incidents, 10 injuries and one fatality in Brunswick.
Prior to the report of the one drowning, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources reported that there were no incidents of drownings on the state's waterways this weekend. “We are very pleased that we had zero drownings statewide,” Georgia Department of Natural Resources Public Information Officer, Mark McKinnon said. “Our rangers will continue to patrol and educate the public on boating and water safety throughout the summer. They will also continue to inform boaters of the requirements under the new boater education law.”
"I hope that everyone had a good and safe holiday this past weekend," said Sheriff Eric J. Levett. "I want to thank the deputies that spent time away from their families and made the sacrifice to work this 4th of July holiday. Despite several hundred traffic stops and multiple checkpoints, it appears that everyone drove safely for the most part as we only had a few DUI arrests."
Overall our roads and waterways were significantly safer this holiday season than last year. That is good news.