Authorities Identify Man Killed in Weekend Boating Accident
An apparent two-boat collision killed a man and seriously injured a woman over the weekend.
The Georgia Department of Natural Resources as identified the 59-year-old man killed in a boating accident on Lake Lanier over the weekend as Stephen Blake Jones, 59, of Duluth.
Jones and a woman, who was seriously injured in the accident, were in a 32-foot pontoon boat reportedly struck by a ski boat sometime between 11 p.m. and midnight Saturday, said Major Stephen Adams of the Georgia DNR.
The couple in the 21-foot ski boat are identified as Steven Parker, 32, and Ashley LeBlanc, 30, both of Cumming, according to Adams.
The boat collision is believed to have occurred approximately 200 yards from the face of the dam back toward Lower Overlook Park inside Gwinnett County.
Capt. Tommy Rutledge of Gwinnett Fire/EMS reported that Forsyth County Fire received a 911 call from a passing motorist on Buford Dam Road.
The Cumming couple's boat reportedly struck an unknown object in the water. When they realized that their boat was damaged and was taking on water, they decided to swim for shore to get help, Rutledge reported.
They climbed a bank to nearby Buford Dam Road and flagged down a passing motorist. According to responders, the two were wearing life jackets when firefighters arrived. Parker and LeBlanc were transported to Northside Hospital-Forsyth for evaluation of minor injuries, then treated and released.
Then, the search immediately began for the second vessel and anyone who might have been in distress in the water. Rescue boats from DNR, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and Forsyth Fire were deployed. Assistance was also requested for air support provided by the Gwinnett Police Aviation Unit. Jones’ body was found in the water within the first 30 minutes of the search.
Authorities located the second boat around 5 a.m. Sunday in the Shoal Creek area of the lake near East Bank Park. The injured woman was found aboard the damaged vessel.
Adams told Cumming Patch the agency's Critical Incident Reconstruction Team is currently reconstructing the accident. He said it would take about 30 days before the investigation is complete and the final report is released.
He also added, "The Department of Natural Resources is the primary agency for investigating all boating related incidences in the state."
Adams would not confirm if alcohol played a part in the accident.
"It's one of the factors that we look into, but I cannot tell you right now that it was or was not involved," he said.
Steve Burns and Faye Edmundson contributed to this report.