A boating incident at Lake Lanier late Monday night left a 9-year-old boy dead and another missing, according to the Wildlife Resources Division of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources.
Authorities are searching for the missing 13-year-old boy.
The operator of the boat that struck a pontoon boat carrying the teen, the 9-year-old and others has been arrested and charged with Boating Under the Influence, according to Wildlife Resources Division Law Enforcement officials.
Paul J. Bennett, 44, of Cumming, was driving a center-console boat that struck a pontoon boat carrying 13 people at about 10:30 p.m. Monday in the Shoal Creek area on southern Lanier, according to investigators. The collision left as many as five people in the water. The 9-year-old died at the scene.
The search for the 13-year-old involves divers from agencies including Hall, Forsyth and Gwinnett counties, as well as DNR’s side-scan sonar, a device used to find and identify objects underwater.
Three others on the pontoon boat were injured in the incident. They were treated and released from an area hospital.
Bennett left the scene, according to investigators. A DNR ranger responding to the accident saw the boat he was operating as it entered Bald Ridge Marina in Forsyth County. Investigators later returned to the marina and found the boat. DNR offices arrested Bennett at about 1:30 a.m. at the marina. A woman riding in the boat with Bennett at the time of the collision was not arrested.
The pontoon boat was also recovered.
DNR’s Critical Incident Reconstruction Team is investigating the incident, including whether the boats had the proper lights and whether they were in use.
Other agencies assisting at the scene include Hall, Forsyth and Gwinnett counties and the Hall County District Attorney’s office.
(Editor's Note: This is a press release from Melissa Cummings of the Department of Natural Resources)