Lake Lanier claims another victim: Body of drowned paddleboarder Jeffrey McElfresh recovered

Lake Lanier in Georgia has grown infamous in recent times as the number of deaths and mishaps has increased


                            Lake Lanier claims another victim: Body of drowned paddleboarder Jeffrey McElfresh recovered
A view of Lake Lanier (Mike Gonzalez/Wikimedia Commons)

FORSYTH COUNTY, GEORGIA: A 55-year-old Kentucky man is the latest victim to fall prey to Lake Lanier, Georgia's cursed reservoir. The man's body was recovered from the water body after he drowned on July 16 while paddleboarding without a life jacket, according to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources. Jeffrey McElfresh of Louiseville, Kentucky, was last seen around 4.30 pm on July 16 at West Bank Park in Forsyth County and he went underwater after his pool noodle began to float away from him. 

Lake Lanier in Georgia has grown infamous in recent times as the number of deaths and mishaps has increased. The location has close to 76 recreational areas, including 10 marinas, 40 Corps-operated parks and campgrounds, and the Lake Lanier Islands. Despite the 'curse of Lake Lanier' it remains one of the most sought-after tourist spots in Georgia. On the 4th of July, a dock sank at the reservoir endangering the lives of several people. Another woman slipped and fell into the water while she was twerking on a boat. Every time an incident happens at Lake Lanier, it becomes one of the trending topics on Twitter and despite the seriousness of these tragedies, people are desensitized to the same and there are one too many jokes that flood the microblogging platform. 

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How did Jeffrey McElfresh die?

There's no information available about Elfresh who drowned at the reservoir and details about him are yet to be made public. “He had a pool noodle with him and the pool noodle began to float away,” Mark McKinnon, a DNR spokesman's email statement read. “He attempted to retrieve it, became tired, and went under. He reappeared shortly after, went under a second time, and never resurfaced," McKinnon added. He also confirmed McKinnon's body was discovered shortly after he went missing. "He attempted to retrieve it, became tired, and went under," DNR said in a news release.

The Forsyth County Sheriff's Office had said Buford Dam Road was closed after the incident and was reopened after a short while. "UPDATE- Roadway is back open. The Incident is still under investigation. Buford Dam Road is currently closed to east-bound traffic due to a drowning at the dam. No additional information is available at this time," an update from Forsyth County Sheriff's Office read. 

Lake Lanier deaths over the years  

According to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources Law Enforcement, 57 boating fatalities took place at the reservoir while 145 people drowned to their deaths between 1998 and 2018. From 2015 to 2018, Lake Lanier saw 43 lake-related deaths and 128 boating accidents. On May 26, 2020, a 33-foot boat was navigating the waters and was hit by a 36-foot boat that was coming for its help. No deaths were reported, only injuries. 

In June 2020, a crash caused the death of a 9-year-old, and a 13-year-old went missing when the boat hit a pontoon. The number of deaths happening at the reservoir continues to grow every year and fast forward to May 9, the body of a 23-year-old boater, who went missing from the lake on Saturday, was recovered after 24 hours. Authorities said he had jumped off a pontoon and never came back. 

In another accident that took place on May 9 at the lake, a boat exploded and six people, including two teenagers, were severely injured. A 16-year-old girl and a 13-year-old boy were flown to a nearby hospital, while a 39-year-old woman was taken to another medical facility. The explosion happened as the boat was refueling at gas docks at the Port of Indecision, according to DNR spokesman Mark McKinnon.

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