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2019 Alabama boating deaths surpass 2018 numbers just 7 months in

According to data from the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency, 7 months into 2019, there have been 64 boating wrecks and 22 fatalities.

Posted: Jul 8, 2019 6:52 PM
Updated: Jul 8, 2019 7:10 PM

The search for a missing woman on Smith Lake is in its fourth day. Kelsey Starling has been missing since the boat she was on crashed into another boat late Thursday night. Both drivers are from Decatur and one is charged with boating under the influence.

According to data from the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency, 7 months into 2019, there have been 64 boating wrecks and 22 fatalities. In all of 2018, there were 11 more wrecks, but 5 fewer fatalities.

The data highlights how deadly this boating season has been. Huntsville Fire and Rescue has a water rescue division that stays tuned into boating accidents in the state. Deputy Chief Derrick Stuckey tells WAAY 31 as Huntsville grows, it brings more people and ultimately more boaters. 

"It's tragic, that's what it is. I picked that one word because it involves loss of life and injury," Chief Stuckey said. 

Chief Stuckey owns a boat himself and says inexperienced drivers are taking the wheel, many times under the influence. 

"We're tending to have a lot more personal watercrafts on the lake, and those are usually operated by people that are young, don't have the experience. They are high-speed, high-power machines," Chief Stuckey said. 

Ed Jackson has been boating for more than 20 years, and tells WAAY 31 there was an incident where he almost had been hit by another boat because people don't follow the rules of the water. 

"They've got guidelines for you to follow just like on the highway, stay within the guidelines," Jackson said. 

Chief Stuckey has seen it too and hopes people start to respect how dangerous the water can be. 

"People go on the water and think there are no lanes, 'I can just go anywhere I want, do whatever I want, go as fast as I want.' That's contributing to what we are seeing," Chief Stuckey said. 

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