Cpl. Shawn Elmore was at Lake Lanier within a few hours of being assigned as lead investigator of a double fatality accident last summer.
Elmore, with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, has now been named 2012 Georgia Boating Officer of Year in part for his handling of that case.
It was, in fact, a big factor in supervisor Capt. Johnny Johnson’s nomination of Elmore.
“That was a high-pressure, very demanding incident,” Johnson said. “He performed outstandingly under that pressure.”
Gov. Nathan Deal signed the “Jake and Griffin Prince BUI Law,” into law this week.
It’s named after the two young Buford brothers who drowned in Lake Lanier after a fishing boat hit the pontoon their family and three other families were riding on last June.
The fishing boat operator faces several charges, including homicide by vessel and boating under the influence.
The law changes boating under the influence laws to mirror driving under the influence laws by lowering the blood alcohol limit from 0.10 grams to 0.08 grams and strengthening the penalties for repeat offenders. The law also raises the age of children who must wear life jackets when riding in a moving, open boat to 13.
Deal also signed the “Kile Glover Boat Education Law” that requires boating safety education classes and clarifies the ages, types of boats and watercraft that teenagers and children younger than 12 years old may operate. Eleven-year-old Glover, stepson of entertainer Usher, was killed on Lake Lanier last July after the tube he was riding on was run over by a personal watercraft. Jeffrey Simon Hubbard of Atlanta has pleaded not guilty to charges including homicide by vessel.
Elmore, who works in the Calhoun office, has spent more than 200 hours on the Prince family investigation and his work will likely be used in court proceedings. He’s been a volunteer member of the Critical Incident Reconstruction Team for nearly seven years in addition to his regular law enforcement duties in Northwest Georgia. The team members investigate deaths and serious injuries, he said.
Elmore initially spent about four days in Hall County investigating the case. He said he enjoys the work.
“When you do an investigation, it’s like a puzzle, Elmore said. “I enjoy going through and gathering the evidence, putting that puzzle together. If there’s missing pieces, going and finding those missing pieces and putting that puzzle together.”
There’s an emotional toll to his work, especially when a death is involved.
“When I’m doing these investigations, I’m actually speaking for those who lost their lives,” Elmore said. “That’s how I personally feel about it.”
He said he has two children, ages 9 and 4.
“I have kids of my own,” Elmore said. “Unfortunately, this was not the first child fatality that I’ve had to work.”
Elmore has worked for DNR for 18 years, with about six years in the Parks, Recreation and Historic Sites division and the rest in the law enforcement division.
Sgt. Greg Colson, a law enforcement officer in the Gainesville office, said volunteering for the CIRT teams is a lot of extra work and travel.
“It takes a lot of time and commitment,” Colson said.
Colson and Elmore worked together when Hurricane Katrina hit in New Orleans in 2005. They went in immediately after the hurricane hit and spent two weeks rescuing stranded people, patrolling and helping others evacuate.
Johnson, who was in the Gainesville office for about 23 years before taking a promotion in Calhoun, said he’s only been Elmore’s supervisor for a year, but it was a very impressive year.
“It’s rewarding to see somebody, that has done such a good job, recognized,” he said.