3 recent deaths at Georgia's Lake Lanier join more than 200 killed on reservoir since 1994

Three people were killed this past week at Georgia's Lake Lanier, authorities said, adding to the more than 200 people who have died at the man-made lake since 1994.

On Saturday, a 61-year-old man was found in 46-feet of water in Lake Lanier after swimming from a boat “when he went down and did not resurface,” the Georgia Department of Natural Resources said in a statement sent to USA TODAY Monday.

The Georgia DNR identified the man as Tracey Stewart.

That evening, a 27-year-old man was swimming from a boat when he went under and did not resurface, the Georgia DNR said. The search is ongoing.

On Thursday, a 24-year-old man drowned and was possibly electrocuted after the man entered the water and was heard “screaming for help,” the Forsyth County Sheriff's Office said in a news release sent to USA TODAY Sunday.

The sheriff's office identified the man as Thomas Milner. First responders took Milner to a nearby hospital where he succumbed to his injuries the next day, the sheriff’s office said.

Milner possibly electrocuted: Person who jumped in water to save him felt a ‘burning sensation’

A family friend tried to help Milner get out of the water by using a ladder but was unsuccessful, the sheriff’s office said.

“Neighbors took a boat over to Thomas and one person jumped in the water to help him,” the sheriff’s office said in the release. “That person described a burning sensation he recognized as an electric shock.”

“He swam ashore, turned off the power box and re-entered the water ultimately pulling Thomas onto the dock,” the sheriff’s office added.

The investigation is ongoing.

Lake Lanier deaths: More than 200 people have died since 1994

Between 1994 and 2022, 216 people have died at Lake Lanier, according to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources Law Enforcement Division.

The Georgia DNR follows the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators’ definitions of a boating fatality and a drowning. A boating fatality is when a victim enters the water from a moving vessel. A drowning is when a victim enters the water from a stationary object.

Suicides or medical events, including cardiac arrest and strokes are not counted in either total.

Lake Lanier drownings, deaths (2018-2022)

  • 2018: 8 drownings, 11 total deaths

  • 2019: 8 drownings, 11 total deaths

  • 2020: 7 drownings, 10 total deaths

  • 2021: 4 drownings, 9 total deaths

  • 2022: 6 drownings, 7 total deaths

  • Total: 33 drownings, 48 total deaths

Lake Lanier history: Created by the US Army Corps of Engineers in 1956

Lake Lanier is the largest lake in Georgia with more than 38,000 acres of water and over 690 miles of shoreline. The lake, which hosts several million visitors a year, was constructed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in 1956.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers built the Buford Dam for “purposes that included flood control, power generation and recreation,” according to the Gwinnett County website. It is the primary source of water for the county.

“Gwinnett County draws an average of 65 million gallons per day from Lake Lanier to provide the public water supply for its businesses and roughly 800,000 residents,” the county said. “The Corps has generated more than $97 million worth of electricity at Buford Dam since 1957.”

The lake, which is also known as Lake Sidney Lanier, is named after Georgia poet and musician Sidney Lanier. It cost about $45 million to create the lake, including buying land, relocating families, design costs and the construction, according to Lake Lanier’s website.

Usher's ex-wife wants to drain Lake Lanier after her son was killed by boater

In early July, the ex-wife of R&B singer Usher collected more than 2,500 signatures for her online petition calling on officials to “drain, clean, and restore” Lake Lanier, The Associated Press reported.

In July 2012, Tameka Foster's 11-year-old son, Kile Glover, was killed after a boater struck him as he floated in an inner tube on the lake, AP reported.

“Draining, cleaning, and restoring Lake Lanier is not only necessary but also an opportunity to honor the memory of those who have lost their lives and prevent further tragedies,” Foster wrote in her change.org petition.

Contributing: The Associated Press

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Lake Lanier deaths: 3 drowned this past week, over 200 since 1994