Game wardens patrolling East Texas lakes on Memorial Day weekend
UPSHUR COUNTY, Texas (KLTV) - Memorial Day weekend opened with a beautiful Saturday, marking the unofficial start of the summer boating season in East Texas, and game wardens are out in force.
This weekend traditionally sees the highest rates for auto and water-related accidents.
Boaters and beach-goers began arriving early Saturday on waterways such as Lake Gladewater and Lake Hawkins, in the first big weekend of late-spring, early-summer fun.
“The lakes are healthy. We have lots of families out enjoying the water. It’s national water safety week,” said Gregg County Game Warden Todd Long.
Statistically, Memorial Day weekend has the most traffic accident reports, among travel holidays in the U.S. It also rates among the top weekends for water-related accidents in Texas.
“We’re going to be out there, full patrol, checking life jackets, water safety items on the boats,” Long said.
Alcohol and impaired boating contributes to a large percentage of the accidents.
“Boating while intoxicated is the same offense as driving while intoxicated. We’ll be doing sobriety checks throughout the week and throughout the summer,” the game warden said.
Most accidents can be prevented by observing some simple rules.
“Be familiar with your water safety equipment, including your throw cushion. Know the lake. Be familiar with the buoy systems. Be familiar with the weather. First and foremost is wear that life jacket. State law requires children under 13 to have it on at all times,” Todd said.
A large percentage of all boating fatalities are drownings, and most of those are cases where a life jacket was not worn.
“The last thing we want this holiday weekend is to come looking for someone at the bottom of the lake,” said Long.
Long recommends everyone operating a boat take a boaters’ safety course, and he advises anyone getting in the water to take swimming lessons.
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