Officials Warning Of Deadly Combination - Boating & Alcohol

By: Heather Haley Email
By: Heather Haley Email

Law enforcement officials are working to curb a key factor in summertime fatalities. Officials say the summer months consist of a possible deadly combination, boating and alcohol.

Greg Watts is an officer with the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife and his job is to patrol Kentucky's waterways and keep them safe. He says in the summer months, too many people try to mix alcohol and water sports.

"It’s an enjoyable sport, but when you add alcohol to it makes it a dangerous sport, not only for people drinking but for everybody else out on the water," Watts said.

Fisherman like George Abner say they feel safer knowing the law is being enforced out on the water.

"We don't have to worry about somebody running by us all the time goofing off, taking a chance hitting us," Abner said.

Watts says he will never forget one of the worst boating accidents involving alcohol he has ever seen.

"He tried to splash another water craft and fell off and went into the water and when he came up, the other water craft struck him in the face," Watts said.

"They’re a lot of children here on the water inner-tubing, they're riding on their jet skis, they're in the boats and we don't need to jeopardize their lives," said Janet Smith.

Watts says too often drunk boaters become drunk drivers.

"So they're the same people you are passing on the highway, so it’s really important that we try to catch them out here before they get on the highway," he said.

Watts says just like drinking and driving, alcohol intoxication on the water is an offense than can land you in jail.

Officials say last year half of all boating fatalities involved impaired operators. Kentucky is ranked in the top 10 for alcohol related boating fatalities.

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