A teen’s fatal drowning has reignited calls to close Lake Lanier.
On Friday, Georgia authorities confirmed they had recovered the body of a 19-year-old who went underwater Thursday and never surfaced. Officials say the drowning occurred Thursday night at around 7:30, when the teen—identified as Sathvik Kothapu—became tired as he attempted to swim across a popular cove in Forsyth County.
Mark McKinnon, a spokesperson for the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution the fire department’s dive team arrived at the scene shortly after and eventually recovered Kothapu’s body at around 9 p.m. from 22 feet of water.
AJC reports the drowning marks the third death in Lake Lanier in 2021. Dorian Adonis Pinson, a 20-year-old South Carolina man, drowned while swimming at Sunrise Cove Marina about a month ago. Just weeks later, authorities recovered the body of 23-year-old Stockbridge man Anthony Saintil, Jr., who reportedly drowned after jumping off a pontoon boat near Flat Creek. In 2020, Georgia authorities reported seven deaths at Lake Lanier. Georgia’s DNR estimates there have been 145 drownings and 57 boating-related deaths at Lake Lanier between 1999 to 2018. The body of water measures approximately 59 square miles.
“It is a very large lake,” McKinnon told McClatchy News in April. “There’s about 8 million visitors a year to Lake Lanier … so there’s a lot of traffic.”
Following news of Thursday’s drowning, a number of people, including Missy Elliott, took to Twitter to caution others about the dangers of Lake Lanier. Some also questioned why the lake was still open to the public in light of all the deaths. You can read some of the reactions below.