BUFORD -- Lake Lanier Islands announced Friday the recent addition of "channel markers" to a popular party spot, an attempt to improve safety as deaths on the lake continue to mount.
The water park and resort on Lake Lanier has placed channel markers -- red and green buoys aimed at helping navigation -- in Sunset Cove, a busy inlet on the lake flanked by volleyball courts, fire pits and the occasional floating performance stage.
The markers are an effort to assist the boating public in accessing the cove in a more organized fashion, while providing improved entry to the cove by first responders in case of an emergency," said Bill Donohue, the executive director of the Lake Lanier Islands Development Authority. "LLIDA is committed to ... providing safe access and use of all the facilities at Lake Lanier Islands."
A statement announcing the new markers said the changes came in light of the recent deaths of three boys on Lake Lanier. Brothers Jake and Griffin Prince, 9 and 13 years old, respectively, were killed on June 18 when their family pontoon was struck by an allegedly drunk boater. Kile Glover, 11, died last week after being struck by a personal watercraft.
A total of seven deaths have occurred on Lake Lanier this year, Department of Natural Resources spokeswoman Melissa Cummings said Friday. Four of those deaths have been boating-related and three declared drownings, including Thursday afternoon's death of 44-year-old Rodrigo Bernal Trejo near West Bank Park.
While safety efforts are ongoing, Cummings said there is often no rhyme or reason why more incidents happen in any particular year. There were 17 deaths on Lanier last year, but only five in 2010.
"There is no particular 'trend' or pattern that describes where (or) when these type of incidents might occur, which makes the job that our conservation rangers do that much harder," Cummings said. "They have to constantly be on alert for safety issues on the lake."
"The best thing that people can do," she added, "is to wear a life jacket, boat sober and take a boating safety course before going out."
More boating information can be found at georgiawildlife.com/boating.