Missouri state police share warning for boaters ahead of Memorial Day weekend

LAKE OF THE OZARKS, MO - A lot of people will be out on the lakes and rivers in their boats this Memorial Day weekend. Just days ago, 3 people were killed at the Lake of the Ozarks, and this weekend it will be packed.

While it’s quite today at Beaver's Bar and Grill near the Bagnell Dam, that won’t be the case in about 48 hours when almost all of the slots on the dock will be filled with boats.

The week before Memorial Day is hard work for Jason Followell and his staff at Beaver's Bar and Grill as they prepare for wild wakes and an invasion of families and groups of friends.

"We'll literally quadruple our business for the holiday season. The traffic is just an abundance," said Jason Followell, Head Chef of Beaver’s Bar and Grill.

"Our population probably rises to somewhere around 50,000-75,000 thousand people when we normally have 20,000-25,000," says Matt Birdsley, Assistant Fire Chief Lake Ozark Fire Protection District.

But the excitement for another holiday brings reminders the lake can be dangerous, even deadly.

Last weekend 5 Kansas City area adults in their 20's headed out on a boat after midnight without their life jackets. Three of them died when their boat collided with a bluff. Missouri State Troopers, arrested the driver Hayden Frazier on suspicion of boating while intoxicated.

"It does hit close to home because these people could have been someone who had eaten here or somebody I talked to yesterday,” said Followell.

"And that's just one thing you know, be smart, use designated drivers, plan ahead. If you're not familiar with the lake at night, I probably don't recommend being out on the lake at night," says Birdsley.

The Lake Ozark Fire Protection District has 2 rescue boats on the lake, one at mile marker one and the other at 16. Firefighters are hoping to not have to use them, but should it be necessary, these have the capabilities to fight fires and rescue victims.

"We just have to be aware and make sure we're doing all the right things because these accidents can happen in a minute's notice," says Birdsley.

"Remember that you have a tolerance. Drink some water, have some food, stay awhile. Be of age, and always have your life jacket with you. We have a couple marinas around here that want to make sure you stay safe."

This week marks National Boating Safety Week and the state highway patrol has been going to lakes around the state performing inspections and helped folks get ready for the boating season.