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Lake search ends after five days

Fisherman disappeared Monday night

POSTED: February 15, 2013 5:57 p.m.

Authorities have suspended the search for a missing fisherman on Laker Lanier after five days.

Sgt. Greg Colson of the state Department of Natural Resources said the agency and Forsyth County authorities will continue to patrol the water’s surface near Little Ridge Park, where the empty boat of 47-year-old George “Marty” Counts was found Monday night.

Searches involving helicopters, dive teams and sonar scans have ended, Colson said Friday, but the team still hopes to provide the family closure.

“They were grateful for what we did and the efforts we put into it,” he said. “Everyone’s upset that the search didn’t end up the way we would all want it to end up.

“We’ve been talking with them the whole time, and it’s just one of those unfortunate events that nobody likes and we all wish could be different.”

Counts, of Tucker, frequented Lanier for fishing, sometimes staying out all night, according to the family. He also had a house on the lake, Colson said.

His 15-foot boat was found about 10 p.m. Monday going in circles, out of gas and with his cell phone on board just off the shore of the park in east Forsyth, not far from Buford Dam.

Colson has said visibility on boats is limited at night, and it’s possible Counts could have struck something.

The search team found his shoes, fishing rod and hat during the effort, which started once the boat was discovered and lasted throughout the daylight each weekday.

Stormy, windy and cold weather conditions hampered the abilities of the helicopters and dive team.

The side scan sonar picked up several images on the bottom of the deep lake, which buried existing land when created in the 1950s.

Colson said anything from rocks, trees and buildings can be found under the water.

The sheriff’s office, Forsyth County Fire Department dive team, Dawson County K9 search and rescue and a DNR air unit, were among those involved in the search.


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