Ga. Department of Natural Resources reported two serious boating incidents - one fatal - over the July 4th holiday weekend, Friday-Sunday, on state waters.
There were a total of 36 boating under the influence events. The last time July 4th fell next to a weekend in 2011, there were 44 BUI incidents.
At Little Tybee Island, a couple had been camping on a small hammock at the south end of Little Tybee Island. At 9:30 Monday morning, while coming off of the island, the boat struck a sandbar and was grounded. They eventually freed the boat from the sandbar when a wave hit and swamped the boat. Another wave came in and capsized the boat. The man drowned.
The Coast Guard airlifted the woman to the hospital. She had no apparent injuries. The body of the 52-yr-old male was recovered. The vessel was a "skiff style" boat with a 40 horsepower motor.
At Lake Allatoona on July 5, around 11:30pm immediately after the fireworks at the Allatoona Yacht Club, DNR Law Enforcement responded to a boat crash near the mouth of Illinois Creek at Allatoona Lake in Bartow County.
They found a Maxum cabin cruiser with five injured people including a 4-month-old child. DNR immediately transported them to the nearest boat ramp for medical attention. The injuries were non-life threatening and all parties were taken to Cartersville Medical Center.
Witnesses stated that a Chaparral ski boat was attempting to overtake the Maxum cabin cruiser from behind. Witnesses stated that the ski boat hit the cabin cruiser from the rear and went up and over the boat causing significant damage to the vessel. The operator of the cabin cruiser sustained the most injuries. There was only one minor injury to the four people in the Chaparral vessel.
The operator of the ski boat, Joseph S. Tofil, was found to be impaired and arrested for boating under the influence. The boat crash is currently under investigation with DNR LED rangers.
Joseph S. Tofil of Canton, Ga. has been arrested and charged with BUI.
The investigation is ongoing and the names of victims have not been released.
GA DNR Rangers will continue to patrol and educate the public on boating and water safety throughout the summer.