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LOTO 3rd third-most dangerous waterway in the U.S.

Old 08-23-2006, 08:30 AM
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Unhappy LOTO 3rd third-most dangerous waterway in the U.S.


Lawmakers weigh in on lake safety

Tourism officials challenge U.S. Coast Guard data
By Gary W. Young/GM-Editor
Published: Monday, August 21, 2006 1:08 PM CDT
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The summer of 2006 will likely be remembered by many lake residents as a watershed moment after the lake was named the third-most dangerous waterway in the U.S.
LAKE OF THE OZARKS — With the final holiday weekend of the summer arriving next week, boating safety issues stir an interesting mix of responses from area lawmakers and tourism officials.

The summer of 2006 will likely be remembered by many lake residents as a watershed moment after the lake was named the third-most dangerous waterway in the U.S.

That dubious distinction, first reported by the Kansas City Star and later picked up by other news services, places the Lake of the Ozarks behind only the Atlantic Ocean and the Colorado River in serious accidents.

The report is also under scrutiny by Lake West Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Mike Kenagy.

He told the WestSide Star last week tourism officials around the lake are investigating where and how the data in the U.S. Coast Guard report was generated.

“The potential is there due to increased traffic, but I do question some of the statistics in the recent article,” Kenagy said. “We’re checking into the data to make sure it doesn’t include simple fender benders and other things that wouldn’t necessarily be relevant.”

“Anything of this nature we have to address, that’s why we have to make sure the data is right. It’s not good for tourism — the idea is out there that the lake is a dangerous place to come — so we need to verify that it’s accurate,” he said.

Meanwhile, some legislative leaders from across the lake region are taking a wait and see approach. Others, like state representative Rodney Schad, believe they know the root of the problem at the Lake of the Ozarks.

“When I heard the report come out about the third most dangerous waterway, that got my attention,” Schad, a Versailles native representing the 115th district, said last week. “I was thinking, ‘...what can be done?’ And with the recent incidents in our area, I knew I wanted to get more information and get something done.”

Unlike any other lake in Missouri, a boat full of people can pull right up to a bar here, Schad pointed out — and thousands do each weekend in the summer. Schad said he believes the threshold for Boating While Intoxicated [BWI] arrests should be lowered to .08 percent blood alcohol content [BAC] to match automobile drivers’ criteria. He also supports making BWI punishment more significant.

“It’s my understanding that there’s an enormous amount of wealthy people who pay their fines for BWI offenses and move on like nothing has happened,” Schad said. “And when you pay $500 a weekend to fill up a big boat [with fuel] — they cause the most problems — for people who will pay that much, those BWI offenses aren’t much.”

Schad said one option would be making a second or third BWI offense affect their auto drivers’ license. “We’ve got to make this lake a safer place to be, or people will stop coming,” he said.

Camdenton’s 155th District representative Wayne Cooper is widely credited with successfully pushing a boater registration bill through the General Assembly that will provide additional funding for the Missouri Water Patrol beginning in 2007.

Last week, he said he’s planning to host a series of town hall meetings around the lake this fall to gather input from lake residents.

“I believe there’s some issues concerning safety,” Cooper said. “What I’d really be moved to do right now is to have a community forum to garner some ideas from the people at the lake to get some perspective on what the issues are.”

Despite the recent report, Cooper said he isn’t sure the Lake of the Ozarks is any more dangerous today than it was 20 years ago.

“It was extremely dangerous then. What’s different now is that there’s two things: More and more large boats and large wakes that swamp and capsize boats and do a lot of damage to docks. The other thing that’s different now — it’s becoming a two-tiered lake. From Friday afternoon to Sunday afternoon the lake is owned and ruled by extremely large boats.”

Kenagy, who became the WestSide Chamber director in 1997, said it’s too early to tell if the recent report has affected tourism. Still, he concedes balancing tourism, economic development with negative press in such a dynamic place can be challenging.

“We’re questioning it and trying to come to an agreement,” he said, referring to water safety issues. “What can be done about it? There’s all sorts of options out there; more Water Patrol, more enforcement of existing laws on the books. That’s probably one of the biggest things; a lot of times is goes back to funding at the state level.”

Tom Self, state representative from Cole Camp for the 116th District, said he welcomes a discussion on these issues. He said growth and development at the lake naturally contribute to congestion and safety issues on one of America’s busiest waterways.

“What we have to do is find out what’s causing the accidents,” Self said. “It’s obvious BWI is a portion of that. Are people not yielding to another boat? Or is it something else? If we’ve got guidelines in place that are just not being followed, we need to address that.”

Self said Cooper’s legislation, which Gov. Matt Blunt signed recently, needs to be given a chance to take effect.

“It’s just getting started, so we want to allow it to have time to see if that is a solution, or a portion of the solution,” said Self.
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Old 08-23-2006, 09:23 AM
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Default Re: LOTO 3rd third-most dangerous waterway in the U.S.

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

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."
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Old 08-23-2006, 09:52 AM
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Default Re: LOTO 3rd third-most dangerous waterway in the U.S.

The lake is a busy place period. When you have a lot of boats and people you are going to have accidents. Everything we do in life has some danger involved it is all about calculated risk. While excessive alcohol does cause accidents lowering the level by .02 will not suddenly make stupid boaters safer. Some people should never drive a personal watercraft or boat with or without alcohol as they have no idea what they are doing.
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Old 08-23-2006, 09:52 AM
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Default Re: LOTO 3rd third-most dangerous waterway in the U.S.

Its starting to look like "Speed Saves"
More people drowning just jumping in the water this year than Ive seen speed related , 3 here on Winni and the speed limit crowd is already jumping for joy and not one of them has been speed related
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Old 08-23-2006, 09:55 AM
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Default Re: LOTO 3rd third-most dangerous waterway in the U.S.

So how does DUI and speed limits prevent drownings????? Can't fix plain stupid.

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Old 08-23-2006, 09:58 AM
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Default Re: LOTO 3rd third-most dangerous waterway in the U.S.

Actually, if you go to the MO State Water Patrol page:
You'll see that PWCs were involved in the majority of accidents every year.
Maybe pass a law to get rid of them!
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Old 08-23-2006, 09:59 AM
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Default Re: LOTO 3rd third-most dangerous waterway in the U.S.

What bothers me is the comment associating large boats
with large wakes.

A lot of my small boat buddies tell me our big performance boats do not leave huge wakes.

Wakeboard boats are the worst.

Semi displacement cruising is probably next.

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Old 08-23-2006, 03:49 PM
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Default Re: LOTO 3rd third-most dangerous waterway in the U.S.

Great what do we win??
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Old 08-23-2006, 03:57 PM
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Default Re: LOTO 3rd third-most dangerous waterway in the U.S.

Originally Posted by 3600cat
Great what do we win??
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Old 09-07-2012, 12:36 PM
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Originally Posted by WeaponX View Post
Great what do we win??
More news coverage!
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