NEWS 5 INVESTIGATES: Alabama boating deaths on the rise, highest since 1998

Local News

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WKRG) — Just over halfway through the year, this has been the deadliest year in two decades for boating accidents in Alabama.

As of July 22nd, 26 people have died on the state’s waterways compared to 17 last year.

Half of the deadly boating accidents we’ve seen this year have happened this month alone.

The latest was Sunday on Mobile’s Dog River, where a man was killed in a tubing accident.

“You’re supposed to go out on the water and have fun, enjoy yourself and for it to turn out into an accident like that, is just it’s not what it’s all about,” Larry Scott, owner of Scott’s Landing and ‘Bait and Tackle’ on the causeway tells News 5.

13 people have died in July from boating accidents, several of those were on July 4th. The last time the popular recreation was this deadly was 1998, when 32 people were killed.

“There’s a number of factors that contribute,” Lieutenant Ryan Bennett with the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency’s Marine Patrol tells News 5.

That includes more people on the waterways because gas prices are down. Plus, disposable income is up along with population.

In other words; more boats are on the water.

But with increased traffic, there are ways to prevent yourself and your family or friends from becoming the next victim.

“Just slow down and take more time. Just make sure you’re aware of what the rules of the road are. Take a boating safety course or take a review online to freshen up those things if you haven’t taken a look at them recently,” said Lieutenant Bennett.

The agency also has a checklist online with items to keep on your boat. That includes life jackets, flares, lights and other items to help keep you safe.

Here is a link to the agency’s website and boating checklist: https://www.alea.gov/dps/marine-patrol/boat-equipment-checklist-alabama

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