Waterway patrols increase as holiday weekend approaches

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FLORENCE, Ala. (WHNT) – With the extended Memorial Day weekend just a few days away, law enforcement are ramping up patrols.

Each year, the Memorial Day weekend marks the beginning of summer boating season. For many, it’s their first time of the year on the water.

“Just because it is a recreational event, it doesn’t mean you can put safety aside,” explained ALEA Spokesman Sr. Trooper Johnathan Appling. “Safety still has to be your priority.”

Appling has worked numerous boat crashes and drowning’s over the years. That’s why he feels so passionate about boaters taking the necessary safety steps to make it back to harbor after their excursions. He stresses the use of life vests.

“You just never know when something is going to happen,” said Appling. “Even the best of swimmers have drown because something has happened, they were knocked unconscious or the waters just gotten to them too much.”

And Appling said the same laws apply on the road as they do on the water. Marine Police strongly discourage drinking and boating. They say not only does it cloud your judgment, but it puts all of your passengers at risk.

“A lot of the same things you think about on the road, whether it’s drinking and driving or wearing your seat-belt/life vest, distracted driving, things like that all apply on the water as well,” Appling stated.

The last thing Appling said they want to do this weekend is work a fatality boating accident or drowning. So please heed the warnings.

Alabama Marine Police said they plan to be on all of the waterways in north Alabama this Memorial Day weekend. While on patrol they will be conducting routine vessel inspections for life vests, registration and boating licenses.

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