Labor Day Report shows no fatalities, 13 drunk boating arrests

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LAKE OF THE OZARKS - The Missouri State Highway Patrol's Labor Day incident report released Tuesday reveals zero boating fatalities this year, along with a decrease in accidents and drownings year round.

MSHP recorded 11 boating crashes involving four injuries, but there were no drownings. Overall this year, 11 boating fatalities occurred along with 25 drownings, while 2013 saw 13 boating fatalities and 32 drownings.

MSHP Captain Tim Hull said troopers were out in full force Labor Day weekend to help prevent accidents.

"Holiday traffic for us is a big deal," Hull said. "So we put every available officer either out on the highway or out on the water depending on their assignments over that holiday, to increase our presence and visibility, enforce those traffic laws as well as promote safety and also assist anybody who might need assistance."

Although the numbers reflect successful efforts by MSHP, intoxicated driving is still a problem at the lake.

This year, 13 intoxicated driving arrests were made Labor Day weekend and 14 arrests were made in 2013.

Terry Hollenbeck, who docks his boat at Marine Max, tends to avoid boating during holidays, and said those weekends can potentially be a recipe for disaster.

"There are inexperienced boaters," Hollenbeck said. "Usually when you mix inexperienced boaters with alcohol, water and heat, you wind up with trouble."

However, when he runs into these drivers, he lets the authorities handle it.

"Best thing to do is just dial 9-1-1 and let the light patrol take care of that," Hollenbeck said.

Because intoxicated boating arrests this year were only one less compared to last year, Captain Hull said boaters can help protect themselves right as they hit the water.

"We try to remind everybody that just like wearing seatbelts, wearing a life jacket in a boat is just as important because you never know when something's going to happen and once it happens, it's usually too late," Hull said.

For more information about boating fatalities, visit MSHP's website.