Highway patrol issues safety warning after deadly boat crash at the lake

6 months 3 weeks 1 day ago Monday, July 01 2019 Jul 1, 2019 Monday, July 01, 2019 8:33:00 PM CDT July 01, 2019 in News
By: Diana Fidarova, KOMU 8 Reporter
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LAKE OF THE OZARKS - The Missouri State Highway Patrol investigated the weekend's deadly boat crash on Monday.

MSHP Sgt. Scott White said the investigation unit was looking into water and boat conditions, the driver's condition, witnesses' statements and any other evidence that would shed light on the collision. 

"They’ll be doing a comprehensive reconstruction report of the crash," he said.

Troopers said two boats collided Saturday around 10 p.m. on the main channel of the lake. Both drivers and all of the passengers were ejected into the water.

Five were taken to the hospital and one was missing, according to MSHP. Divers found Jason Russell's body in 80 feet of water Sunday afternoon.

Witness Andrew Morton said he heard "a large, unique crash" on Saturday night. 

"I didn't really realize what was going on until we started hearing screaming for help all around docks nearer to the mouth of the cove," he said. 

Morton said he got his boat off the lift as quickly as possible and took off towards the screaming. 

"Nate and Bryan [boat crash victims] were being assisted by two other boats on the scene already," he said. 

Morton said it took a minute for them to realize Jason Russell was missing.

Camper Debbie Carr said the highway patrol closed the lake's main channel around the fourth mile marker trying to find Russell.
Sgt. White said closing down the bottom isle of the lake helped the dive team conduct the search. 
"That reduced the roughness of the water," he said. 

Sgt. White said with the Fourth of July holiday coming up, troopers will be working extended shifts. He said it's the busiest weekend at the lake all year.

"We'll be on a lookout for those operators who are not paying attention or committing any of those water type violations," he said. 

Sgt. White said he has some safety reminders for holidays on the water.

"People should make sure they pay attention out there in the water, understand how dangerous it can be and wear those life jackets any time you're involved with any type of water activities," he said. 

This is the second deadly boating incident at the Lake of the Ozarks over this summer.

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