TEXAS (KYTX) - Texas Game Wardens take action to see safer waters for Independence Day weekend.
"Public safety initiatives seem to be paying off," says Harris County Game Warden Capt. Fred Ruiz, "The numbers speak for themselves."
The weekend before July 4th, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department put it's Operation Dry Waters plan into action. The Game Wardens focused on efforts to reduce the number of boat operators that were driving under the influence.
"The Operation Dry Water Weekend is a nationwide crackdown on boaters who choose to operate under the influence and it has proven to be a significant eye-opener to the public on the weekend just prior to the nation's largest boating weekend," said Asst. Comm. Cody Jones, TPWD Boating Law Administrator.
From June 28 to June 30, 15 people were arrested for being under the influence of alcohol when operating on the water. Over the holiday weekend, Game wardens checked more than 8,000 vessels.
Game Wardens saw a significant increase of boaters out enjoying the lake on the 4th and also noted the increase of designated boat drivers.
"An increased emphasis has been placed on the importance of having a designated driver for your boat," said Maj. Jeff Gillenwaters, supervisor for the 50-county Central Texas region of Texas Parks and Wildlife Department's Law Enforcement Division. "We are seeing that this emphasis has become a very effective tool in combating boating while intoxicated cases."
While the water did seem safer this holiday weekend, one life was tragically lost at Possum Kingdom Lake. This prompted a cancellation of the fire work show so that recovery operations could take place.
On Lake Waco, Game Wardens responded to several stranded boaters during a firework show after high winds carried some down stream. More than two dozen children and adults were transported to shore with no reported injuries.
On Clear Lake in Houston, game wardens with Harrison County netted four boating while intoxicated cases.