Drug arrests and drowning deaths up throughout Missouri over Memorial Day weekend
LAKE OF THE OZARKS - Memorial Day weekend for 2017 saw a dramatic shift upward in both arrests and fatalities this year compared to 2016.
While the arrests for boating while intoxicated were about the same with 20 this year and 21 in 2016, the drug arrests went up from 71 arrests last year to 125 this year according to Missouri State Highway Patrol.
One big change was the increase in drownings this year across Missouri. There were three total drownings compared to zero last year.
One drowning occurred at the Lake of the Ozarks, while the others occurred in Branson.
Sergeant Scott White of Troop F for Missouri State Highway Patrol said the drownings are a concern, but said he hopes the public takes that extra step to be safe in the water.
"As law enforcement, we can only do so much. We rely on the public to make sure they're safe also. The biggest thing when it comes to being on or near water is to wear that life jacket. Water emergencies can happen very quickly," White said. "They're unpredictable, and they're unforgiving. The biggest thing we can encourage for people is to wear that life jacket."
While the 'boating while intoxicated' numbers were around the same with 20 this year and 21 last year, there were no boating fatalities in either year.
A resident with a home on the Lake of the Ozarks Lisa Jobe said she believes the inclement weather Memorial Day weekend might have caused people to cram in for a shorter amount of time, but she said safety comes first when traveling to places like the lake for holidays.
"I wonder if people were trying to cram three days worth of celebrating into two due to the inclement weather. We are always extra cautious on the holiday weekends due to the larger number of people on the water. I'm not sure what we can do to help these numbers except reminding people to be extra careful and aware of others on the water," Jobe said.
One boat caught fire, and another pair collided into each other during the weekend.