At least 39 drownings reported at Georgia lakes in 2023, including these at Lake Lanier

There have been at least 39 drownings reported in the state of Georgia so far this year.

The Georgia Department of Natural Resources keeps record of the boating statistics for the state. As of Labor Day, there have been 39 drownings, 121 boating under the influence cases, 94 boating incidents and nine boating fatalities on Georgia lakes so far this year.

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Lake Lanier, which covers multiple metro counties, is one of the most popular boating and swimming destinations in Georgia.

Of the 39 drownings, eight have occurred at Lake Lanier. A 24-year-old man, identified as Thomas Milner, also died after he jumped into the lake and was electrocuted. None of the state’s boating fatalities this year have been at Lake Lanier.

To put this year’s numbers into perspective, it’s the most drownings at Lake Lanier in four years. There were six drownings in 2022; four in 2021; seven in 2020; eight in 2019 and 2018. Since 1994, there have been three years when the numbers reached double digits: 10 in 2011 and 2014; 11 in 1999.



March 25: Timothy Cline Thomas

Officials pulled the body of a missing man out of the lake at Bolding Mill Park.

Thomas’ family members contacted the Hall County Sheriff’s Office to ask for a welfare check. Deputies found his car parked at the boat ramp and found his body in the lake a short distance away.

May 12: Melvin Warnecke

A 78-year-old man drowned at War Hill Park on the Forsyth-Dawson county line on May 12. Officials responded that Friday afternoon after reports of a drowning. They later found the man’s body 20 feet from the water.

Officials identified the man as Melvin Warnecke, according to Access WDUN.

May 22: Terry Daugherty

Terry Daugherty, 57, was reported missing at the Sunrise Cove Marina off of Flat Creek Road. A friend says he last saw Daugherty at 9 p.m. on Monday night at the dock at the marina where his boat is kept.

Neighbors say when they woke up on Tuesday morning, they weren’t able to find him. Officials later found Daugherty’s body alongside the dock near where the boat was docked.

July 29: Tracey Stewart

Tracey Stewart, a 61-year-old from Stone Mountain, was swimming from a boat near East Bank Park off Lake Lanier when he disappeared. Stewart never resurfaced. A few hours later, officials pulled his body from 46 feet of water.

July 29: Leonardo Martinez

Leonardo Martinez, a boat mechanic, disappeared while swimming near Van Pugh Park in Hall County on July 29. The Georgia Department of Natural Resources confirmed to Channel 2 Action News that game wardens found his body on August 3 around 9:30 a.m.

His body was floating on the surface about 30 yards from the shore.

August 21: Brayan Tarasona

Hall County Fire Rescue received a call about a possible drowning and responded to Van Pugh Park around 6:40 p.m. The sheriff’s office said 22-year-old Brayan Tarasona and two of his friends were swimming when he tried to return to shore and went under. The rescue team arrived and located him using sonar.

The Hall County Sheriff’s Office confirmed that Tarasona died that night around 8:30 p.m.

August 26: Edgar Steven Cruz Martinez

Georgia Department of Natural Resources officials told Channel 2 Action News just after 3 p.m. that game wardens and crews with Gwinnett County fire and the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office responded to reports of a possible drowning at Lanier Park.

When crews arrived, they located the swimmer in 10 feet of water with the help of boat-mounted sonar. Officials confirmed the victim, 23-year-old Edgar Steven Cruz Martinez, was dead when he was pulled from the water.

September 2: Gavrie Alexander Whitlock

A man ran down a dock, slipped and fell into the water at Lake Lanier on Saturday. Hall County Fire Rescue crews recovered the victim’s body in 17 feet of water and pronounced him dead at the scene.

Officials identified the victim as 23-year-old Gavrie Alexander Whitlock of Snellville.

*This list will be updated as information about a drowning is confirmed by officials.

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