Boater cited after family is pulled through spillway - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Boater cited after family is pulled through spillway

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Robbie Griner of the Department of Natural Resources Robbie Griner of the Department of Natural Resources
Richard Bachmann grew up fishing and boating on the Flint Richard Bachmann grew up fishing and boating on the Flint
ALBANY, GA (WALB) -

The DNR has now charged a south Georgia man with reckless operation of a boat after an accident investigators say could have killed his family.     

They say Harry Merritt drove his boat too close to the Georgia Power Dam Saturday.  He, his wife and two kids are recovering from bumps and bruises after the boat was sucked through the dam.    

Albany resident Richard Bachmann grew up fishing and boating on the Flint River, but has never seen an accident like the one that happened Saturday.

"People were hollering that the boat was capsized, we saw three or four heads bopping but weren't sure how many were actually in the boat," he said

The area near the Georgia Power Dam is a popular place for recreation, but Bachman says people should be required to take safety course before putting a boat in the water.

"You can get in a dangerous spot quick, you need to learn about the water that your on and learn how to drive your boat in it because it can be very dangerous."

Robbie Griner of the Department of Natural Resources says they are investigating.  He says the family was trying to get a closer look at the dam when they were pulled through the spillway and underneath one of the three floodgates that were opened at the time.

"They are very fortunate to still have each other," he said.

Griner says people need to use caution while out on the river. "Georgia Power maintains the water levels in the lake thus they may have anywhere from one to 16 gates opened at any given moment."

The two kids in the boat were wearing life jackets at the time. The family is safe and didn't have any major injuries except cuts and bruises.

 

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