Lake Harding residents speak on shocking number of boating deaths in Ala. in 2019

Lake Harding residents speak on shocking number of boating deaths in Ala. in 2019

Ala. (WTVM) - The Fourth of July holiday period was particularly deadly for those on waterways in Alabama.

Rick Jyachosky has lived on Lake Harding for four years, and on his first day out on the lake four years ago, he had to help out fellow boaters.

“I had to tow two boats back that were tethered together,” he said.

Jyachosky said he’s seen people doing a lot of dangerous things out on the lake over the years.

“When they’re out here in the summertime, it is really crazy out here," Jyachosky said. "There are the partiers that go out there.”

Donna Rock agreed.

“I see kids out there on jet-skis that shouldn’t be, people without life jackets on jet-skis, and people out in weather when it’s lightening,” she said.

They both said Lake Harding was particularly busy over the Fourth of July holiday period. This was the same for other waterways in Alabama, where six people died in boating accidents from June 30 to July 7. That’s three times the amount of deaths compared to the same time frame the past two years.

“It’s sad," Jyachosky said. "Last year, we didn’t have as much of a problem.”

So far in 2019, there have been 64 boat crashes with 22 deaths in Alabama, already passing the total number of boat-related deaths in the state for all of 2017 and 2018.

There have been 14 boating deaths in Georgia in 2019, according to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources.

Jyachosky and Rock said this just emphasizes the need to make safety a top priority.

“We make sure we have enough life jackets, make sure the kids have life jackets on,” Rock said.

Jyachosky agreed and has additional steps he takes.

“I don’t drink when I go out there," he said. "Watch constantly, everything, even when I’m turning the boat.”

In Georgia and Alabama, it’s required for there to be a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life vest for every person on the boat. In Georgia, children under 13 and in Alabama, children under 8, are required to wear a life vest at all times. Alcohol can also cause problems.

"Do not boat and drink"

Rock wants to share one message.

“Just be careful on the lake," she said. "Treat it with respect.”

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