Rare Winter Boating Collision on Lake Lanier

In a post last week, the new boating safety regulations proposed in legislation by Senator Butch Miller and strongly endorsed by Governor Deal were discussed. It was my feeling that while the legislation was a good start, it did little to address the safety concerns of boater carelessness and overcrowding on the lakes and rivers of Georgia that are responsible for the majority of accidents on our state's waterways. Early this week, a rare winter collision on Lake Lanier seemed to make the argument for more boating regulations (especially operator training) that address those issues.

On Sunday, January 27, 2013 a rowing shell from Lake Lanier Rowing Club was struck by a fishing boat on Lake Lanier sending the rowers into the frigid water and damaging their shell. Rowing shells are slim and delicate. While graceful on the water, they are often difficult to spot from far away due to their slight design. The operator of the motorized fishing boat admitted that he was "not paying attention" and did not see the slender 4-man rowing shell until the rowers began yelling. By that time, despite his efforts, he was unable to stop and struck the bow of the shell sending the rower into the water. Luckily, no one was seriously injured and the fisherman transported the cold and wet rowers to the dock where they were treated for mild hyperthermia. The fisherman (whose name was not released) was cited for failure to yield to a non-motorized vessel. The President of the Lake Lanier Rowing Club, Jon Ferris, said he has feared for years that one of the club's shells might be hit by another vessel. "We've had close calls where someone in a motorboat or in a rowing shell got too close...but never a collision in the past," said Ferris.

This accident draws attention to the concern of how the different types of watercraft sharing the same areas can be dangerous. Rowers, paddle boarders, swimmers, jet skiers, and various types of boaters all frequent the states lakes and rivers and they all must be aware of how to safely enjoy the waterways without endangering each other. Even when the water is only sparsely occupied as it was on Sunday, accidents can and do occur and can be avoided if the boating rules of the road are followed. The problem is that many of the recreational boaters are not aware of those "rules of the road," and the proposed legislation does little to raise awareness.

Georgia Accident Attorney, Casey W. Stevens has experience in all areas of Georgia personal injury law, including boating and jet ski accidents. He offers case evaluation to those seeking to recover compensation from a boating accident. Contact our office today to schedule your appointment.