Weekend Hit and Run Boating Accident May Result in Charges

By: Casey W. Stevens

A young couple on a small Sea-Doo boat on Lake Lanier was the victims of a hit and run boating accident over Memorial Day Weekend. The Sea-Doo was reported to be running at low speed with its lights on when the collision occurred near Old Federal Park in Flowery Branch.

The couple, a 23-year old man and 20-year old woman whose names have not been released, spent Saturday in the hospital being treated for injuries including broken bones and cuts and bruises. Thankfully, none of their injuries appeared to be life threatening. Unfortunately, their boat was severely damaged and considered a total loss. The accident happened around midnight overnight between Friday and Saturday of the holiday weekend, and authorities began searching for the driver of the boat that had run over the couple.

They didn’t have to wait long to find their suspect.

Saturday, an 18-year old Hall County resident, accompanied by his father, turned himself into authorities. The teen’s father had heard about the accident on the radio, gone home to check the condition of the boat in the garage, and then confronted his son. The windshield of the boat was shattered and the hull was damaged. The young driver recounted for authorities that he and his friend had been out fishing and that they had struck something in the water, but that he was unaware that it was another boat. Authorities were looking for the passenger to get his statement. The teen admitted that they did not stop to investigate what they had hit after the collision.

The Department of Natural Resources is now in possession of the boat and is processing it for evidence and Hall County Prosecutors are trying to determine what charges, if any, will be filed against the teen.

The accident is drawing new attention to Bill 136 – the stricter boating laws that were signed into law by Governor Nathan Deal earlier this year. [You can read more about GA Bill 136 HERE and HERE]

Concerns over boating safety prompted Georgia lawmakers to draft legislation that aimed to make Georgia’s waterways safer, yet on the first day of the boating season, the first accident has already occurred. Details about the teen’s boating experience or any safety courses that he may have completed were not available (one of the stipulations created under the new boating safety law). Now, prosecutors are trying to determine if the teen involved violated any laws – new or old – that would require him to face charges.