Lake of the Ozarks: When Lake Fun Becomes Deadly

Lake of the Ozarks: When Lake Fun Becomes Deadly

Spring is finally here, and with it comes the rush to visit what Missourians fondly call “the Lake.” Located in the heart of Missouri, Lake of the Ozarks has many opportunities for fun, and USA Today readers have voted it the “Best Recreational Lake in the Nation.” While it may surprise some to learn that a Missouri lake beat out California’s Big Bear Lake, Iowa’s West Okoboji Lake, and Nevada’s Lake Tahoe, those who have been to the Lake will know exactly why it won this title.

The huge body of water covers more than 1,150 miles of shoreline, which is more expansive than the entire California coast. Both on and off the lake, fun activities abound. While not on the water, visitors can partake in sightseeing at the local state parks, dining in a wide array of restaurants, camping, or staying at a top-rated hotel or lodge. When visitors hop on a watercraft, jet ski, kayak, or participate in other watersports, they can enjoy the thrilling sights and sounds attached to the lake.

With all these opportunities for fun, what could go wrong? In short, plenty.

Most Common Causes of Accidents at Lake of the Ozarks

Precaution must be taken to ensure you stay safe. Over 100 people were involved in boating accidents on the Lake from April 10, 2018 through March 15, 2019. Of these incidents, 10 individuals lost their lives. Injuries and accidents often result from boating under the influence (BUI), participating in watersports while intoxicated, and other instances of careless or reckless behavior.

Per Missouri State Highway Patrol data, accidents reported on Lake of the Ozarks in the past 12 months included:

  • Person(s) falling overboard
  • Person(s) ejected from watercrafts
  • Collisions with fixed objects or other watercrafts
  • Fires/explosions
  • Drowning or near-drowning
  • Towed watersport mishaps
  • Capsizing

Planning a Trip to Lake of the Ozarks? Follow These Safety Tips.

The official kickoff of boating season will be during the 22nd annual Spring Harbor Hop on May 4, 2019. The Harbor Hop is a semiannual event in the spring and fall, which draws huge crowds to play in what’s billed as the largest poker hop on the water. Boaters participate by drawing cards at more than 40 locations around the lake to make a winning poker hand.

Before you start gathering the sunscreen, beach towels, and refreshments and loading up your boat, take some time to review the tips for safe boating provided by the Lake of the Ozarks Water Safety Council.

Basic Missouri boating laws include:

  • Do not operate a boat while intoxicated; boating under the influence (BUI) is a criminal offense as serious as driving under the influence, and it carries similar penalties.
  • Children under the age of 7 must wear a life vest/personal floatation device while aboard a watercraft, and it is highly recommended that everyone on board wear a Coast Guard-approved life jacket that’s the proper size, in good condition, and readily accessible.
  • It is illegal to operate a watercraft faster than “idle speed” within 100 feet of a dock, occupied/or anchored vessel, or buoyed area.
  • At night, the speed limit is 30 miles per hour, which begins 30 minutes after sunset and continues through 1 hour before sunrise.
  • If your boat is 16 feet or longer, you are required to carry a Coast Guard-approved throwable device.
  • Motorboats must carry fire extinguishers if they are less than 26 feet in length, and/or they are carrying/using flammable or toxic fluids.
  • All vessels from 16 to 40 feet must have a sounding device, such as a horn or whistle. Vessels over 40 feet must have a bell in addition to a sounding device.
  • Every person born after January 1, 1984 and operating a vessel on the lake must possess a boating safety identification card issued by the Missouri State Highway Patrol or its agent, and a photo ID, or a boating safety identification card issued by their home state from a NASBLA-approved boating safety course.

Want to learn more? Attend a Boating & Water Safety Seminar held by the Lake of the Ozarks Water Safety Council in Lake Ozark, Missouri on May 11, 2019 for further information about electrical safety, life jackets, First Aid, CPR training, and more.

To contact Cantor Injury Law, please call us at (314) 485-4005 or contact us online for a swift reply. We offer free case evaluations for victims of accidents that occur on Lake of the Ozarks.


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