In years past the state has been able to go through the entire Labor Day weekend without a fatality on Missouri’s waterways. That wasn’t the case this year.
There were four deaths on the water over the holiday weekend, all of them at the Lake of the Ozarks.
“We like to see fatality-free weekends. That doesn’t happen all the time. For the Lake of the Ozarks, this was an unfortunate weekend. An unfortunate event in an otherwise safe year for the Lake of the Ozarks,” said Water Patrol Spokesman Sgt. Jerry Callahan
Callahan says the deaths all had some of the familiar factors involved.
“One of the drownings occurred off a dock. The other one was an individual swimming from a boat to another point. Both of those incidents involved victims not wearing life jackets. Alcohol was a contributing factor in the two boating fatality accidents, and an arrest was made in one of the two incidents (for operating while intoxicated),” Callahan said.
Meantime, there were also nine other boating accidents across the state that resulted in injuries. Callahan says the weather likely contributed to that in more ways than one. He says the lakes and rivers were more crowded as people took advantage of the clear, sunny weather.
“One of the other factors that contributed to a number of incidents and injuries over this weekend was actually the wind. It created higher waves, larger wakes. We saw a number of injury accidents from individuals falling within the boat and hitting themselves or injuring themselves,” Callahan said.
Callahan says this adds to a year that’s already shown a lack of improvement when it comes to water safety in the state.
“Our drowning numbers are high, higher than normal. Our boating fatalities are about where they are typically. We’d like to see those numbers come down hopefully through education and the public just practicing safety around the water. We can get those numbers down,” Callahan said.