MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WIAT) — Marine Patrol officers are on high alert after two people drowned this weekend in Alabama’s waters.
Sgt. Jeremy Burkett with the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency said the Marine Patrol Division was out in full force this weekend, some officers working 14 or 15-hour days to help keep people safe.
“If it’s a situation where they’re out and there’s some kind of tragedy, they’re going to stay with it and we’re going to do everything we can to, of course, save somebody’s life, or worst-case scenario do a recovery,” Burkett said.
Burkett said that the two drownings that happened at the Coosa River and Smith Lake are unfortunately common this time of year.
“I would say from a loss of life, we’ve had more tragic weekends in the past through some Memorial Days, however, and I can’t say this enough, anytime anyone loses their life, it’s extremely tragic,” Burkett said.
He said one of the best ways to avoid that is by wearing a life jacket, which is required for children under 8 years old. Burkett urged even the most experienced boaters to wear a life vest, even if they’re just jumping in for a minute.
“There could be a stump, you hit your head on something, you could get out there and the boat could drift,” Burkett said. “That personal floatation device is going to keep you above water, which is extremely important because once you drop below the surface of that water, things can go bad very fast.”
Burkett said it’s important to not only have a floatation device with you, but a charged phone in case you need to call for help. He also recommends telling someone where you’re going before you leave and using extra caution if navigating the water at night.
Between now and Labor Day is one of the busiest times for law enforcement, and Burkett says ALEA wants to ensure everyone can enjoy the outdoors and make it home safely.
According to the CDC, Alabama has the 13th highest number of fatal drownings in the country.