Lake Mead patrols prepare for busy Fourth of July holiday weeken - FOX5 Vegas - KVVU

Lake Mead patrols prepare for busy Fourth of July holiday weekends

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Boats are shown at Lake Mead in an undated image. (File) Boats are shown at Lake Mead in an undated image. (File)

Lake Mead staff said Fourth of July is expected to be one of the busiest holidays on Lake Mead with up to 200,000 visitors.

Officials have stepped up patrols, looking out for anyone who may be boating under the influence or being unsafe. This week, park rangers responded to more than 285 incidents.

“Fourth of July is a big weekend for us. Family comes in from other states,” Craig Siqueland said.

With more people and more boats on the water come a higher risk of accidents.

“It gets frustrating, gets entertaining,” Dave Hamel said. “You just got to expect it on a big weekend.”

That’s why officials at Lake Mead were stepping up patrols through Operation Dry Water, June 29 through July 1.

“We’ll be looking for people with open containers or maybe driving a little more hazardously than usual,” Lake Mead National Recreation Area PIO Christie Vanover said.

Rangers responded to hundreds of incidents this week. Early Sunday morning, they rescued 17 people, including two children, found either treading water or stranded.

“It looks like [what] probably happened, they had more people than were authorized on the boat, causing it to sink,” Vanover said.

Officials said some of them were not wearing life jackets. Other boaters on the water said they already have safety plans in place.

“Whoever is going to be driving that day, they’re the designated driver,” Sigueland said. “Everyone else can do whatever they want and have fun, so we rotate.”

They said everyone on the water needs to do their part to stay safe.

“I don’t want to say defensive boating, but yes, you drive defensively,” Greg Pullon said. “Keep an eye out for others because they’re not keeping an eye out for you.”

“Even when you’re safe and watching out, stuff happens,” Sigueland said. “It’s high speeds, lots of action, lots of people.”

Officials said this year is a little different because the Fourth of July is on a Wednesday. They will have extra patrols both the weekend before and after the holiday.

The punishment for boating under the influence can be up to a $5,000 fine or six months in jail.

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