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Jackson Lake records first boating fatality of season

Michael Davis

Special to the Citizen

JACKSON -- A Conyers man has died after a boating accident on Jackson Lake Tuesday evening.

Georgia Department of Natural Resources Capt. Bob Lynn identified the victim as 58-year-old Joseph L. Baker.

Lynn said Baker was a passenger on a boat operated by David M. Farmer Jr., 37, of Covington, when the vessel collided with another boat.

Lynn said the collision happened around 8:30 p.m., Tuesday, throwing Farmer from the boat. Baker was able to help Farmer back aboard and get the boat to the nearby shore, Lynn said, but died a short time later.

Lynn said the state crime lab was working to determine the exact cause of Baker's death.

Butts County Fire Chief Mike Wilson, the first emergency worker to arrive at the scene where the boaters came on shore near Sky Road, said Wednesday that Baker appeared to have suffered a head injury and wasn't breathing when he arrived and started CPR.

Wilson said Baker was taken by ambulance to Sylvan Grove Hospital in Jackson, where he was pronounced dead.

According to Lynn, the other boat involved in the collision was operated by Harry W. Knisell, 55, of Jackson, the only person aboard.

Lynn said it could take up to three months to complete the crash investigation. He said blood samples were taken from the boat operators, which is standard procedure in investigating a boating accident involving a serious injury or fatality, to determine if impairment may have been a factor.

Lynn said Tuesday's crash was the first major boating accident and first death on the lake this year.

Wilson said both boat operators were treated at the scene for minor injuries.