Troopers, Coast Guard enforce boating safety on Big Lake
Alaska State Troopers aren’t just looking for impaired drivers this holiday weekend. As part of Operation Dry Water, wildlife troopers want to stop people form boating under the influence too.
On Fourth of July, Alaska Wildlife Trooper Thomas Akelcock hit the water of Big Lake for some enforcement.
“If we weren’t out here, man, this place would be a mad house,” he said.
His mission first thing in the morning was to drive the lake end to end just to make his presence known. There’s also another trooper out on a jet ski.
“Word of mouth — I guarantee you all these guys that have buddies, friends, whoever they’re calling on the cell phone and saying, ‘Hey the troopers are out here.’”
The patrol is part of a national boating safety effort.
Trooper Akelcock and U.S. Coast Guard Lt. j.g. Scott Peters stopped boats to make sure they had all the proper gear on board, including life jackets for every person, a fire extinguisher and a noise making device.
“Common missing items is people missing their registration. That’s a big one. Possibly not having a throwable [personal flotation device], so a seat cushion or a life ring,” Peters said.
Children under the age of 13 are required to wear life jackets while on the boat. Akelcock said it’s not a bad idea for adults to follow suit, especially on a busy holiday weekend.
“If they don’t have a life jacket on, man, they sink like a rock. Doesn’t matter how good of a swimmer folks think they are. Alaska waters are cold and it only takes a few minutes for your body to start cramping up,” he said.
There are some violations what will get your vessel taken off the water. One boat troopers stopped had expired registration tags from 2014 and the teenage girls onboard were sent home with a warning.
“We want it to be an educational experience when possible and then enforcement if we have to,” Peters said.
The increased troopers presence will continue on Alaska waters through Sunday, July 7.
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