Troopers emphasize water safety before Memorial Day weekend

GRANDVIEW, Mo. -- As of May 18, there have been 16 reported deaths on Missouri waterways. That number is especially concerning to Missouri Water Patrol troopers since we haven’t even hit the official start of the boating season.

“Look for violations of the law, unsafe actions, people that need help,” Cpl. David Campbell of the Missouri Water Patrol said.

Campbell has seen just about everything out on the water.

“People ride in unsafe areas where they could fall overboard, people operate too close to each other, there’s an endless amount of people going too fast in no wake areas, people don’t have proper lights on at nighttime,” Campbell said.

Among the most common, and the most dangerous violations is drinking while operating a boat.

“I would say half of the boats out here have alcohol in them,” Campbell said.

It’s a scary statistic considering there’s a lot of intangibles out on the water.

“You literally have to look all directions. Unlike driving a car on the highway where you’re only looking where you’re going, on a lake you have to beware of people coming from the sides because people are coming from all different directions,” Campbell said.

Saturday’s early morning crash at Lake Of The Ozarks that claimed the lives of three young adults from Johnson County involved both alcohol, and nighttime boating.

“Nighttime boating is very dangerous because you really can’t see anything and when you have a lot of other obstacles, especially a lake where there’s a lot of docs or a lot of other boats out at night,” Campbell said.

Water patrol troopers say they’re always out keeping an eye on the water, and arresting people who break the law. Going to jail might ruin a person's day, but it could save lives.

“We have found in the last 10 years or so we have a lot more designated drivers and I think that’s due to the fact that we took a lot of people to jail,” Campbell said.

Memorial Day Weekend kicks off on Friday, May 25th. It’s one of the busiest boating weekends of the year.

Troopers say it’s important to review safety measures and of course have a designated boat operator to avoid jail or death.