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Over 200 People Have Died in Lake Lanier Since 1994, Many Say It's Haunted

According to The Independent in September 2023, 23-year-old Gavrie Alexander Whitlock became the eighth person to drown in Georgia's Lake Lanier that year. He simply fell into its waters and never resurfaced. This occurred a week after Edgar Steven Cruz Martinez, also 23, drowned while swimming. A month before that, two men died separately from each other but on the same day. Both were swimming in Lake Lanier. What is going on with this body of water?

The man-made lake is located 50 miles outside of Atlanta in Gainesville, Ga. And while it isn't the deadliest lake in the U.S., that distinction belongs to Lake Michigan, its creepy origin story has contributed to its haunted lore. Let's get into the deaths at Lake Lanier and its haunted history . We're gonna need a bigger drink.

There are rational explanations for the Lake Lanier deaths.

Before we get into the supernatural, there are a few legitimate explanations surrounding the deaths at Lake Lanier. Since 1994, there have been more than 200 deaths at the popular recreational spot, per USA Today . Some of the deaths are certainly more bizarre than most. For example, in July 2023, 24-year-old Thomas Milner was electrocuted after jumping into the lake. This phenomenon is known as electric shock drowning and occurs "when electrical current leaks into the water," said CBS News .

Because Lake Lanier is a popular area for boating, swimming, and hanging out, it stands to reason that alcohol is often involved. Between 2008 and 2018, The Independent reported that there were "more than 525 BUIs handed out" by authorities. The lake is also quite cloudy which is problematic for rescue missions.

After Tameka Foster 's 11-year-old son was killed while riding on an inner tube on the lake, she started a petition on demanding it be drained and cleaned. The fashion designer and ex-wife of R&B singer Usher wrote, "Draining, cleaning, and restoring Lake Lanier is not only necessary but also an opportunity to honor the memory of those who have lost their lives and prevent further tragedies." Her son Kile Glover, and a 15-year-old girl, were struck by a personal watercraft.

Lake Lanier comes with some pretty standard eerie stories that one might find in any local lore. "Legend has it the ghost of a long-dead woman roams this lake in a flowing blue dress," said CNN . Of course what body of water is without skeletal hands reaching out from its depths to drag unsuspecting victims to their own watery grave? What's different about Lake Lanier is that there might be literal watery graves at its bottom.

In the early 1950s, the Army Corps of Engineers decided that a lake was needed in the Atlanta area to provide the "surrounding counties with power and water." The government then approached 700 families who lived across 56,000 acres of land and asked if they could purchase the land to build a lake. Deciding on the value of their property was a herculean task for many of these families because they had lived there for generations. How could they put a price tag on that?

The government assured these families they were being paid a fair amount thought that did very little to quell the anger and sadness they felt while watching water cover their ancestral homes in 1956. It wasn't just land and history they were losing. There was also a cemetery in the area. "While the Corps identified and moved marked graves, it’s likely that some unmarked ones were inadvertently left behind," Cesar Yabor, a spokesman for the US Army Corps of Engineers, told CNN .

There's a great line in the movie Poltergeist that Craig T. Nelson screams to his land-developing boss, after suffering through weeks of ghostly activities in his home. "You moved the headstones but you didn't move the bodies," he says upon realizing that the community he and his family lived in was built over a cemetery. The situation in Lake Lanier feels shockingly similar.

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Paul Bunce
Paul Bunce

It's not haunted, just attracts tens of thousands of drunken idjits from ATL.

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