A spokesperson for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources says the high number of fatal and personal injury accidents on Iowa lakes and rivers over the holiday weekend should serve as a reminder to all boaters about taking proper precautions. Kevin Baskins says boaters should wear life jackets and pay attention to their surroundings.
“Nobody ever goes out on the water expecting an emergency to occur. That’s why you need to be prepared ahead of time,” Baskins told Radio Iowa. “Somebody can get thrown overboard or the boat can hit something and if you’re in the water, it’s too late to put on a life jacket.”
At least four people died in boating accidents or by drowning between Saturday and Monday. A 12-year-old Fairfield girl who fell off an innertube at Coralville Reservoir was hit and killed by another boat. A South Sioux City boy died at Storm Lake when he was hit by the motor of the boat that flipped inside the vessel when the boat hit a dredge pipe just below the surface of the water. Two drownings occurred at Rathbun Lake in southern Iowa and at Hobbs Access located in Carroll County.
Authorities continue to search for a 75-year-old man who may’ve fell out of his boat while fishing on Briarstone Lake in Mason City. A Nebraska man is also missing after he fell out of a boat on the Missouri River near Port Neal. Baskins says D.N.R. officers reported high boat traffic throughout the three-day weekend.
“Some of them said it was as many boats as they’ve seen,” Baskins said. High temperatures over the past three days were in the 80s statewide. That led to increased activity on Iowa’s waterways.
“In recent memory, I can’t remember a Memorial Day weekend that had this good of weather,” Baskins said. Other incidents reported by the D.N.R. included two Waterloo teenagers being injured when the engine on their personal watercraft exploded on the Mississippi River. A Waverly man was charged with boating while intoxicated when his boat collided with a hoist on a lake in Delaware County.
A family of four from Wilton escaped injury after their boat’s motor stalled on the Mississippi River near Muscatine. The couple jumped overboard with their children, ages 1 and 3, just before a barge struck and destroyed the boat. They were rescued by another boater.