PEORIA, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) – Peoria Fire and Medical says they have already been dispatched to more drownings in Lake Pleasant this year than all of last year after a fourth person drowned yesterday.
“The thing is, it’s only May, and we’ve already exceeded the number we had last season, and so it’s going to be a busy, busy year,” said fire department captain Mark Barbee. and Peoria Medical.
Barbee said they view Memorial Day as the start of peak season at the lake. During weekends or busier days at the lake, patrols are intensified. “We would patrol the water based on volume. If it’s a busy weekend, like the 4th of July weekend, you’ll see a boat in the water as fireworks go off over the water,” Barbee explained.
On April 24, a 20-year-old man attempted to swim to shore and then back to a boat when he went underwater and never surfaced. The following Sunday, May 1, a man in his early twenties was swimming in the lake and went underwater and never came back. On May 8, an 83-year-old woman was ejected from a boat and was seriously injured. Other boaters pulled her out of the water, but she eventually died in hospital. On May 15, an 18-year-old drowned while trying to swim in the lake.
The Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) says none of the drowning victims were wearing life jackets. “It’s unfortunate, and we’d love to have the answer on how we could stop this now and fix it, but we just need everyone to know that when you’re down or in a craft, you should have a flotation device on,” Barbee said. “Some people would tell you, it’s available to me on the boat, and that’s okay. personal flotation, all the time.”
According to the Arizona Game and Fish Department website, there should be enough PFDs for each person on a boat.
Barbee says that to prevent such tragedies, all they can do is raise awareness and educate the public. “Even if there are laws, what could you do? What could the person on the water do to be safer? That’s what we’re here for,” Barbee said. “The firefighters cannot verbalize you. We can give you suggestions and suggest you have them. Are you OK? Did you see anyone in distress? It is better to ask than to obviously have to answer it.
In addition to PFDs, Peoria Fire also recommends making sure you have a charged cell phone and a map of the lake. “All these different areas on the water have names. So if you had this with you, especially if it was your first time at the lake or you are inexperienced, and you had to call 911, you can give us better directions, and we can reach you faster,” Barbee said. .
MCSO did not respond to inquiries about how often they patrol the lake and whether they issue citations regarding the lack of PFDs on watercraft.
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