Summer boating season has been deadly in Alabama

Marine police experiencing limited staffing issues

LAKE MARTIN, Ala. (WSFA) - Twenty-five people have died this year in boating collisions in Alabama.

Some have happened at night, like the four fatalities in the River Region since May on lakes Martin and Jordan and the Alabama River.

Robert Bunch was bothered and surprised by these facts.

“I was surprised. Boating is serious business.. you do have to be safe when you’re out boating," he said.

Bunch says the idea of a lake curfew sounds good on paper but isn’t sure it would sit well with so many who love the water. After all, no one wants to be responsible for taking away the fun and the relaxation of being on the lake.

“What I would be in favor of is more education. The curfew idea may be a bit overkill," said Bunch.

The head of the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency agrees. ALEA Secretary Hal Taylor says the issue really isn’t so much keeping boaters off the lakes at night but using common sense.

That 25 number has already surpassed the totals in 2017 and 2018, and according to ALEA, in roughly half of those cases alcohol may have been involved.

“They can’t drink and boat," Taylor said.

Another troubling discovery: marine police are noticing life jackets aren’t being used enough. While it’s true in Alabama only children 8 years old and younger must wear them, secretary Taylor wonders why wouldn’t anyone want to put one on.

“When you’re thrown off that boat, the life jacket under the seat isn’t going to help you," said Taylor.

“You gotta have your lights, proper lighting," said Bunch.

Bunch knows this and is not one to take chances certainly not with a family of four wanting to venture and dock safe and sound.

Taylor says Lake Jordan has one marine police officer, which he’s comfortable with because it’s a smaller lake, but hopes to add another officer to the team of four already assigned to Lake Martin.

Two trooper training classes are in session right now in Selma.

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