Deadly Vacation Lake

9 years 3 months 1 week ago June 18, 2007 Jun 18, 2007 Monday, June 18 2007 Monday, June 18, 2007 5:52:10 PM CDT in News

The boater and swimmer death toll climbed to seven over the weekend. Six of the seven deaths at the lake this summer are cases of swimmers drowning. The other death was a boating accident.

With only nine deaths at the lake last year, this year is on pace to break the record for deaths at the popular watering hole.

Visitors say partying is part of the lake's reputation. Holly Erickson and her family came from Minnesota to vacation at the lake.

"It's a big party lake and it's kind of like a Girls Gone Wild weekend here and a ton of really big boats," Erickson said.

"The fatality rate so far this year is the highest we've ever seen," said Nick Humphrey with the Missouri State Water Patrol.

Swimming, not boating, caused all but one of the lake deaths so far this year, each one involving alcohol.

Since drinking while swimming is not illegal, the water patrol says the issue isn't enforcement, it's personal responsibility.

"People have to realize that drinking and swimming is a personal choice that can have very dangerous consequences," Humphrey said.

Erickson says she's not surprised to hear people are dying.

"I can understand how that can happen, but I'm not surprised," said Erickson. "The speeds are crazy."

The water patrol says it has enough officers patrolling the lake, but Erickson says out on the water she sees a different story.

"People disregard them, they don't pay much attention to them," Erickson said.

The water patrol just wants people to stay safe, so this summer isn't remembered for its record number of deaths.

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