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Authorities urge caution over Fourth
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Forsyth County News
Public safety officials are cautioning the public not to take the holiday fun too far this Fourth of July weekend.

Forsyth County Sheriff’s Capt. Frank Huggins said bicycle, motorcycle and marine units will patrol county roads and Lake Lanier.

“We’re going to do whatever we can to make sure everybody has a safe, enjoyable holiday,” Huggins said.

“That includes increased patrols, especially on the lake and in the parks, and we’ll be doing safety checks in the daytime and evening at many
locations throughout the county to make sure no one is driving in an unsafe manner.”

He said authorities will also check to make sure motorists are wearing seat belts and reminded residents that the state’s law against texting while driving took effect Thursday.

Because July Fourth falls on a Sunday this year, many residents will take Friday or Monday — or maybe both — off from work this holiday weekend.

Forsyth County Fire Capt. Jason Shivers said heavy traffic is expected on Lanier this weekend and asked people to use caution while boating or swimming.

He said those who cannot swim should stay out of the water and suggested that everyone on the lake wear a safety vest.

There have already been several incidents on Lanier this year.

Most recently, 15-year-old Woodstock girl died June 24, four days after she fell off an inner tube and was struck by a passing pontoon boat near Nix Bridge Park in Dawson County.

In a separate incident, 67-year-old North Carolina man drowned June 23 near Little Hill Park off Dawsonville Highway, near the Forsyth County line.

A 27-year-old Lawrenceville man is believed to have drowned May 16 after sliding off a water slide on a houseboat in the lake near Six Mile Creek, east of Shady Grove Campground in Forsyth County.

The body of Rohan Mathew has not been found, though authorities spent about 12 days and more than 1,200 man hours searching.

During last year’s July Fourth holiday period, one person died after nearly drowning on the Hall County side of the lake. In 2008, the lake claimed three people in Forsyth.

According to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, there have been 57 boating incidents statewide this year.

Those planning to leave town may be interested to know that AAA has predicted that travel from Georgia will increase by 11 percent, with about 830,000 Georgians expected to hit the road this weekend.

The state Department of Transportation has asked motorists to be patient.

“Traffic congestion [today] will be heavier than normal, with rush hour beginning as early as 1 p.m. in high-volume areas,” said Vance C. Smith Jr., DOT commissioner.

“Monday could also be very busy, with people returning from the long holiday combined with regular rush hour.”

The DOT also has suspended construction-related lane closures on all interstates and major state routes from 5 a.m. today until 5 a.m. Tuesday.
AAA has predicted 17.1 percent, or about 35 million, more Americans than last year will travel at least 50 miles from home for the Independence Day holiday.

The organization expects travel from Florida, Georgia and Tennessee to increase, despite the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Nearly 40,000 Georgians are expected to travel by plane.