Severe storms capsize pontoon boat

June 2010 News
Severe storms slammed parts of Lake Allatoona on Thursday forcing some boaters to take cover. Before they knew it, it was too late.

Cherokee County Firefighters with the dive team responded to the overturned boat. In the same area two huge trees were also knocked over from the down draft that forced the boat to capsize.

"When the boat flipped the cabin and the occupants were underwater so they done real good getting out of the water," Bartow Carver Park superintendent Phil Shook said. Shook said five children were on the boat when it tipped over. He said the kids were cold so he gave them blankets to warm them up.

"They did everything right, just the weather came up too fast," said Cherokee dive team leader Buck Buchanan. "They started heading in like any responsible boater and then a downdraft caught them and literally turned their vessel over with small children."

Buchanan said they have been extremely busy this week with 6 rescues on the lake in just five days.

"That's why we are out here training and getting the message out people who come to the lake must wear their life jackets and be prepared," said Buchanan. "With the economy down like it is, we have seen a spiked increase of people on the lake and now we have a lot of uneducated boaters."

As for the nine people on the boat, all were wearing life jackets.

"If they didn't have life jackets on this would have been a lot different," said Buchanan. "Instead of bringing the people to safety, we'd have been pulling bodies out of the water."

So far this year 3 people have died in Lake Allatoona.

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