And this from the St Louis paper today.
Get ready for some new regulations!
DUI at 0.08? Speed limit?
Fatalities on the rise at Lake of the Ozarks
By Joel Currier
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
The deaths came at an alarming pace: four drownings or accidents on the Lake of Ozarks just this past week. They were the latest scars to an already tragic boating season at the popular summer getaway.
"This last month has been horrific," said Patrolman Lou Amighetti of the Missouri Water Patrol. "This is a real, real tragedy that we're having. This is probably one of the worst summers."
With six fatal boating accidents and drownings so far in August, it has become one of the deadliest months in recent years.
And only two of the past decade's boating seasons - from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend - were deadlier than this year is so far. Seventeen people drowned or died in accidents on the lake in 1999, Amighetti said, and 12 in 1996.
Since May of this year, there have been 10. Alcohol was a factor in seven, Amighetti said.
In the past week alone:
The Water Patrol recovered a West Virginia man's body Monday morning in about 25 feet of water after he and another man fell off a pontoon boat Saturday night.
An Eldon, Mo. woman, 41, was found floating in 3 feet of water Saturday evening near the town of Lake Ozark. Her boyfriend reported her missing Friday night and found her the next day. Authorities do not suspect foul play.
On Saturday morning, a Holts Summit, Mo., man, 19, working with para-sailers, died after falling off a yacht. The patrol recovered his body at a depth of 39 feet.
On Thursday, a De Soto, Kan. man died after falling into the lake while trying to leap between boats. Authorities said they believe alcohol was a factor.
Amighetti said most, if not all, of the past week's deaths could have been prevented had the victims worn floatation devices.
"Wearing a life jacket is comparable to wearing a seat belt in a vehicle," Amighetti said. "It's up to the public to take precautions."
But most folks don't bother, said Troy Ernst, 29, a lifelong resident of Lake Ozark who works at a marina. He considers the Lake of the Ozarks relatively safe and said it gets far too much news media attention because of its popularity with people from St. Louis and Kansas City.
"I think there's a bunch of idiots out there, and there's a lot of people who are safe," Ernst said. "Accidents can happen at any time. That's why they're called accidents."
Typically, about three people die in boating accidents on the Lake of the Ozarks each year, according to statistics provided by the Coast Guard. There were 35 boating deaths reported from 1995 to 2004. Alcohol consumption was involved in 20 of those deaths and in 317 nonfatal accidents.
So far this year, the Water Patrol has arrested 350 people for boating while intoxicated statewide, though data are not available to determine how many came on the Lake of the Ozarks. Last year, three of four such arrests came on the lake.
Sixteen patrol officers are assigned there daily. A new law raised boat registration fees by about $10 a year and is expected to add $3 million to the patrol's $7.3 million annual budget. The added revenue is earmarked for new equipment and higher salaries, not for more officers.
Some boaters say the recent string of fatalities doesn't necessarily mean the Lake of the Ozarks is more dangerous.
Mike Atkinson, 57, director of the Lake of the Ozarks Marine Dealers Association, said he thinks the increase of the lake's use has grown faster than the fatalities.
"It's common knowledge that the place has grown, there's more population and more people boating," Atkinson said. "Statistically, we're probably better now than we were then."
Bob Kiser, 54, a Kirkwood native who moved to the Lake of the Ozarks eight years ago, said he thinks boating traffic has declined this summer because higher gasoline prices are keeping some tourists closer to home.
"I just think it's been a really unusual string of stupid events," said Kiser, a marina manager who said he feels safe taking out his fishing boat a couple of times a week. "I have no fear whatsoever, but you can't fix stupid."
Dan Pestka, who has been vacationing at his father-in-law's cottage on the lake for the past 18 summers, said he will be especially cautious when he takes his family out on their jet boat on Labor day weekend.
"There's just too many big boats on there," said Pestka, 47, a mechanic from Florissant. "It's just like the highways. Drinking and driving don't mix. It's the same thing with boats. There's no doubt about that."