A bill that sought to make the Lake of the Ozarks safer for swimmers saw little attention in the 2015 legislative session, but will come up again next year.
Thirteen year-old Alexandra Anderson and her eight-year-old brother Brayden of Ashland drowned after they were electrocuted while swimming near a dock at the Lake of the Ozarks, July 4, 2012. Columbia representative Caleb Jones sponsored an act named for them would require owners of bodies of water in Missouri to require docks and marinas on those bodies to have ground fault interrupters, that would shut off electricity to those structures in the case of a short.
Jones says he will offer that bill again in 2016.
“I feel like we, as a legislature, should try to make sure that no family has to go through what the Anderson family went through,” Jones told Missourinet.
The bill would also require defibrillators on water patrol division boats, prohibition of swimming in and around docks and marinas, and would set fines and jail time for failure to comply.
Alexandra and Brayden’s mother, Angela, said having defibrillators on water patrol division boats would be important because of many types of medical emergencies those can be needed for, that can happen on or near water. She also remembers emergency responders wanting them when her children died.
“We had two nurses that were helping us, one each with Alexandra and Brayden, and I very specifically remember one of the nurses yelling [to incoming water patrol boats], ‘Where’s your defibrillator? Where’s your defibrillator? These kids need defibrillators!'”
Anderson knows the prohibition of swimming around docks and marinas won’t be popular, but she says it would save lives.
“If I hadn’t lived through this I certainly would be like, ‘There’s no way. Of course we want to go and we want to swim off our dock,'” said Anderson.
Anderson says she doesn’t consider her children’s deaths to have been accidental.
“I believed [they were accidents] all the way up until the point when I started reading and educating myself, and then I came to realize this was not an accident. This was a tragedy waiting to happen,” she said.
She said the bill contains some of the reforms she believes are needed to prevent more people drowning on the Lake, but wants it to go further.
“We need certified electricians in the State of Missouri. Missouri is only one of four states that does not have a certification process,” said Anderson.
The Andersons filed a lawsuit against the owner of the Lake, Ameren Missouri, saying the company was liable by not inspecting the family’s dock, nor requiring ground fault interrupters on it, but the case was dismissed. The Missouri Supreme Court upheld that dismissal in June.
In the week after that dismissal, a man died and a woman was injured when they were shocked while in the Lake of the Ozarks.