By Brittany Pieper – email
SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) – Thirty two people died in boating accidents last year in Louisiana . Local law enforcement is patrolling the water ways trying to make sure everyone stays safe over the holiday weekend.
Sgt. Wesley Walker has spent more than 12 years patrolling Louisiana's water ways, and he says the 4th of July is always a challenge.
"This is the busiest time of the year for any law enforcement that works the water, by far," said Walker.
Trae Neely takes his kids on the water almost every weekend, but says he's extra careful this holiday because it can be more dangerous.
"You have more traffic on the water, so it possibly can be," he said.
With more boats, officers also write more tickets. We went out with Walker to see what the water patrols look for on the Red River.
"Obvious things like kids with no life jacket," said Walker.
He stops some boats, just to make sure they have enough life jackets for everyone on board. Most do, but he says those that don't put themselves in danger. Last year more than 90% of those who died in boating accidents in the U.S. were not wearing a life jacket. Any one under age 17 should wear one at all times, and everyone older should have one within their reach.
Boat owners also should not overload their boat or drink and drive. Walker says one of the citations he gives most often is violating no wake zones.
"It's no wake 100 yards from any public launch or public docking facility," he said.
During the hour KSLA News 12 spent on the water with Walker, he pulled over 2 boats for violating no wake zones, but he says if you follow all of these rules you should have a safe and fun 4th of July on the water.