Eleven lives were lost on Georgia's roads during the Fourth of July holiday weekend, according to the Georgia Department of Public Safety.
Georgia Department of Natural Resources reported there was one boating fatality but no one drowned in any of Georgia's lakes or waterways. There were 10 injuries reported with 11 boating “incidents” during the long holiday weekend that began 6 PM Thursday through midnight Sunday night.
The number of traffic fatalities was the same as last year, but the holiday weekend was one day longer, as it began on Thursday at 6 PM. As a result, per capita fatalities were down.
Of the 11 deaths, 4 accidents were investigated by the Georgia State Patrol, and 7 accidents were worked by local law enforcement officers. Last year the Georgia State Patrol worked 5 of the 11 fatal wrecks.
The troopers worked wrecks out of State Patrol posts in Cordele, Sylvania, Villa Rica, and Calhoun.
Local law enforcement worked accidents in Gwinnett County, Warner Robins, Cobb County, and four fatal wrecks in DeKalb County alone (my home county).
State Troopers worked 1150 wrecks last year that yielded 564 injuries and 5 fatalities. There were 9,849 tickets written and 18,477 warnings. There were 359 DUI arrests made.
Department of Natural Resources officials say that rangers worked two very serious boating accidents during the weekend that included one fatality.
The fatality occurred off of Little Tybee Island where a couple were camping. Two big waves hit their small boat and made it capsize, sending a 52-year-old man into the water where he drowned. His body was later recovered. The woman was airlifted to the hospital but had no serious injuries. The accident is considered to be a boating fatality and not a drowning because the man entered the water from a vessel and not land.
The other boating accident was Saturday night around 11:30 PM on Lake Allatoona after the Yacht Club's fireworks. Department of Natural Resources found a cabin cruiser with 5 injured persons aboard including a 4-month-old baby. They all were quickly transported to the nearest boat ramp to get medical attention. None of the injuries were life threatening, and they were all later taken to the Medical Center of Cartersville.
Apparently what had happened was a ski boat had tried to take over the cabin cruiser from behind and ended up hitting it in the rear. The ski boat then went up over the cabin cruiser, causing major damage to the boat. The operator of the cabin cruiser received the most injuries, while there was only one minor injury to a person on the ski boat.
Joseph Tofil of Canton, the driver of the ski boat, was found to be intoxicated and was arrested for Boating Under the Influence (BUI).
That was only one of the 36 BUIs statewide given over the Fourth of July holiday weekend.
The Department of Natural Resources investigated 11 boating accidents that yielded 10 injuries. Alcohol was a factor in two of those incidents.
Remember, Georgia's Boating Under the Influence penalties are now as harsh as our DUI penalties. Exercise caution this busy boating season!