With thousands expected on Georgia reservoirs and rivers this holiday weekend, a new Department of Natural Resources video stresses water safety through the story of a south Georgia fishing trip that almost turned tragic.
Daniel Fields of Pembroke and two of his sons were bank fishing along the Ohoopee River in Tattnall County on July 4, 2011, when first one of the boys, then the other fell in. Neither could swim. Fields, only a marginal swimmer, jumped in to help.
All were struggling in deep water when Sgt. Don Dasher and Ranger 1st Class Clint Jarriel of DNR’s Wildlife Resources Division pulled them out, with the help of a bystander. Dasher and Jarriel had been checking anglers at the Ga. 147 bridge, their last stop of the evening on a busy July Fourth.
The video posted on the Wildlife Resources Division’s YouTube channel features interviews with the Fields and the conservation officers, and emphasizes safety tips such as the use of personal flotation devices. As of Aug. 15, 32 people have drowned in Georgia lakes, rivers and ponds this year.
Lt. Col. Jeff Weaver said the video’s take-home message is that “accidents happen.” For non-swimmers and in accordance with safe-boating laws, “It’s best to wear your life jackets and be prepared,” Weaver said.
Lawmakers in the state House and Senate recently honored Jarriel and Dasher with resolutions.