Despite a rainy Memorial Day weekend, law enforcement officers with the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism had to pull 17 stranded boats out of Kansas reservoirs.
From Friday to Monday, game wardens towed boats that had either run out of gas on the lake or experienced a mechanical failure, Capt. Dan Melson said.
“It’s the first time of the year people get their boats out, and they haven’t prepared for the lake,” Melson said. “Usually by Labor Day that number goes down.”
A group of Cheney Lake boaters spent Saturday night on the lake after their vessel ran out of fuel. About 11 p.m. Saturday at Fall River Reservoir, a game warden found a boat that had been reported missing about two miles out on the water. A family with a 3-month-old infant was on board.
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“When you see a 3-month-old spending the night on the lake, that’s not good,” Melson said.
Everyone was brought back safely.
Overall, Melson said, the number of boating and fishing incidents was kept relatively low by the rainy weather. It prevented many boaters from going out on state reservoirs, he said.
“A better weather forecast means increased boat traffic, and that increases chances for boat accidents,” he said.
Two people drowned in Kansas reservoirs over the weekend. On Saturday, Mark Selbee, 45, of Leawood, drowned at Hillsdale Reservoir when he fell overboard while boating with two of his children. Game wardens recovered his body on Sunday. On Sunday, a 65-year-old angler drowned after falling overboard at Milford Reservoir. Game wardens, along with local authorities, were still working to recover the man’s body on Wednesday, according to a news release.
Wardens issued 113 citations for boating violations and 67 citations for fishing violations, and arrested one person after a boating-under-the-influence enforcement effort at Keith Sebelius and Big Hill reservoirs Saturday night.
“That was not normal,” Melson said. “I would expect on a normal Memorial Day weekend, our division makes five to seven BUI arrests, and we only had the one at Big Hill.”
The department released holiday statistics on Wednesday for the first time. Officials said that by next year they will have a better gauge on how many incidents, on average, happen over a holiday.
“In years to come we plan to be able to offer more data,” said Ron Kaufman, director of information services with the department.