Safe boating gets Ga. spotlight ahead of holiday weekend

Published: Jun. 29, 2022 at 4:28 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - In the past month, we’ve reported on at least six drownings, including three at Clarks Hill Lake last week.

With so many people headed out to the lake this weekend, local and state agencies are teaming up to keep things as safe as possible.

On top of keeping swimmers safe, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources says it’s also cracking down on boaters operating a vessel the influence.

The Coast Guard says 489 people drowned in lakes last year, and 399 of them weren’t wearing a life jacket.

Out on the water, fun can quickly turn to danger.

“It’s a bad tragedy because people could’ve easily been wearing a life jacket. …. We encourage everyone to do that,” said Commodore Pat McMenamin of the Coast Guard Auxiliary.

McMenamin has been patrolling the water along with her husband with the coast guard auxillary since 2009.

She says life jackets need to be worn all the time.

“When do you want to put a life jacket on?” Jim McMenamin said. “As soon as you get out of your car.”

He says the water can be deceiving.

The Georgia Department of Natural Resources will be patrolling, too.

“We are pulling resources which would be other personnel from elsewhere in the state that may not have large reservoirs,” said Cpl. Shane Sartor of the agency.

“We want sober operators. We don’t want the operators to be operating under the influence of alcohol or drugs.”

The agency will have three boats out on Clarks Hill Lake.

“The tragedies that happen on our waterways because individuals choose to boat while impaired are preventable,” says Col. Thomas Barnard, director of the Georgia DNR Law Enforcement Division. “As law enforcement, it is our job to do everything we can to ensure the safety of our recreational boaters and paddlers.”

Visit for more information about boating under the influence.

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