Monday was a very busy day on area lakes, and officials warn that there's a certain way of doing things out on the water.
Sgt. Brian Parrott has learned that if he doesn't get a wave from a passing boat, there may be something wrong. It's just one of the tips he's picked up from 16 years of patrolling Smithville Lake.
"We're mostly looking for safety issues that can cause accident and injury," he said. "People just not thinking about what they're doing, letting the fun get away from them."
When Parrott does see a violation, he's quick to move in.
"The reason I'm stopping you is you can't tow anybody north of the bridge," he said to one boater on Monday.
While he's not always the most popular man on the lake, Parrott said even breaking a small rule can get out of hand quickly.
"After working the accidents where husband hits wife and wife hits husband…those are the reasons we try to get involved in those quickly and make sure people are backing down and playing by the rules," he said.
Parrott said this has been a safer summer than usual. There was one drowning tied to a medical issue and no accident injuries reported.
"Mostly I'd attribute that to the economy's bad and we've seen less traffic, and man that heat really killed traffic," he said.
But the season's not over yet, and the drought has exposed some new dangers. Dropping water levels brought more timber to the surface, creating new obstacles and he said he has seen more stranded boaters than usual. It's one more reason troopers are asking the last boaters of the season to stay alert.
A violent jerk from a wave sent a boating party on the Lake of the Ozarks flying. The boat's driver was whipped to the ground and passengers were sent flying. All are recovering now, but some suffered broken bones and neck injuries.
The video taken from the boat during the scary incident and provided by The Lake TV Channel is shocking even to seasoned veterans like Parrott.
"When the water is that rough, obviously you need to slow down a little bit, and then of course, have your passengers seated," he said.
Parrott took KCTV5's Alice Barr and photographer Rob Rhodes out on Smithville Lake for a look at the right way to roll with the waves.
"You'll feel a whole different dynamic when that wave gets underneath of us here," he said.
Barr said she did feel it and they were rocking through the wake from passing boats.
The waves don't get as big at Smithville Lake as they do at Lake of the Ozarks, but on a busy boating day, the crew and Parrott still saw some risky moves.
"That's exactly what happened down there at Lake of the Ozarks, did you see it go airborne and then rock back and forth?" Parrott said. "If he'd had a boat full of people standing, they would have been thrown out of the boat."
Parrott said knowing how to angle into a wave and thinking ahead comes with experience.
"We've got waves rolling in several different directions right in front of us," he said. "When you start to sense that it's not a good situation, you just slow down."
Parrott said experience and good intuition keeps from turning a day of fun on the water into a trip to the hospital.
Missouri ranks among the top 10 states in number of boating accidents. According to the U.S. Coast Guard, there were 128 accident in Missouri last year resulting in 17 deaths.
In Kansas there were 40 boating accidents reported and seven deaths.
Also, thanks to the rainy weekend, campers are once again allowed to have a campfire at Missouri conservation areas.
The Missouri Department of Conservation had issued a fire ban in June for public properties because of the dry summer, but the ban has been lifted for all of the nearly 1,000 conservation areas.
The department said managers of conservation areas could still re-impose bans for specific sites if they feel the fire danger is still too high.
Copyright 2012 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved.
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