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Hunt for missing boater resumes
Disappeared Sunday night on Lake Lanier
WEB missing boater JD
A Forsyth County dive team prepares to go back in the water as they search for a missing boater - photo by Jim Dean

The search for a missing fisherman on Lake Lanier continued Thursday under vastly improved weather conditions.

The multiagency search team endured cold and windy weather Wednesday during the effort to find the 47-year-old man whose 15-foot boat was discovered unmanned on Monday night, said Sgt. Greg Colson of the state Department of Natural Resources.

The family of the man, whose name has not been released, told authorities it wasn’t uncommon for him to go fishing on Lanier and stay out all night.

Colson said no timetable has been placed on ending the search, which began about 10 p.m. Monday.

The effort will end with success or “until we’ve exhausted every resource we think we can use,” he said.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, the search took place during the day, wrapped up in the late afternoon due to weather conditions and resumed the following morning.

Authorities have focused their efforts in the vicinity of where the boat was discovered, which is by Little Ridge Park off Lanier Beach South Road, not too far from Buford Dam.

His fishing rod was also found in the water around that area on Tuesday, Colson said.

On Thursday, clear skies allowed the team to search by air, on the shore, with a K9 unit and using sonar from boats and a dive team.

Colson explained that using the side scan sonar can be difficult in the deep waters of Lanier, which buried existing land when created in the 1950s.

“You see really everything on the bottom of the lake, and that includes trees. And when Lanier was flooded, there was a lot of stuff still left,” he said. “Sometimes you’ll see fences and buildings and things like that or just old stuff that’s still down there. You see logs and rocks and just everything. The thing is deciphering out what you want somebody to dive on.

“It’s awfully cold and windy, and putting somebody in 42-degree water is kind of stressful on a diver.”