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Drowning, traffic accidents mar holiday weekend

POSTED: September 3, 2013 12:38 a.m.

Local authorities have reported several accidents but few fatalities over the Labor Day holiday weekend.

The Georgia State Patrol’s Gainesville post reported Monday night it worked 24 crashes with 15 injuries and no fatalities since Friday at 6 p.m.

There was one reported tragedy in nearby Dawson County.

Authorities identified and recovered the body of an Atlanta man who apparently drowned over the holiday weekend in Amicalola Creek near Dawsonville.

A diver with the Dawson County dive team found the body of 45-year-old Ramiro Ponce-Ruiz on Monday afternoon, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Law Enforcement Division reported.

Ponce-Ruiz had apparently drowned Sunday afternoon at Devil’s Elbow in the Dawson Forest Wildlife Management Area.

According to witness accounts, he was swimming with family and friends when he swam out from the bank and dove under. When he surfaced, he was struggling and then went back under. His body was found in about 20 feet of water.

The search effort included DNR Law Enforcement Division rangers, the Dawson County Sheriff’s Office and Fire Department, Dawson County’s dive team and divers from Cherokee County. Hall County Sheriff’s Office dive team members also helped with assessing the dive.

On Lake Lanier, the weekend’s activities were consistent with a summer that has seen few major incidents.

DNR reported two boating incidents over the holiday weekend on Lanier.

A personal watercraft hit a metal object in the water Sunday on Lanier in the mouth of Shoal Creek, puncturing a hole in the hull and throwing the operator into the windshield, DNR said.

The other incident occurred Saturday when a rental boat was banged up while docked at Aqualand Marina during a storm.

Operators of a rental boat tried to get to the dock at Aqualand Marina ahead of a storm on Saturday but didn’t make it in time. They docked on the outside of the houseboat docks at Aqualand. The storm caused the boat to continuously hit the dock, causing significant damage to the boat’s stern.

There were six BUI citations issued on Lanier over the weekend, DNR said, out of a total of 18 statewide. That’s up from six BUIs statewide over the holiday weekend in 2011 and nine in 2012.

The death in Amicalola Creek was the state’s only drowning over the holiday weekend.

Two other deaths were considered caused by boating incidents. A 23-year-old Atlanta man died after jumping off a boat in Lake Allatoona, and a 61-year-old Augusta man died while kayaking in the Savannah River near Augusta.


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