Water Patrol says Four Drownings Over Labor Day Weekend "Not Unusual"
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Water Patrol says Four Drownings Over Labor Day Weekend "Not Unusual"

Date: September 6, 2011
By: Matt Evans
State Capitol Bureau

JEFFERSON CITY - The Missouri Water Patrol said four people drowned on Missouri waterways over the holiday weekend.  That's the same number of people who died on Labor Day Weekend 2010. 

Sgt. Gerard Callahan, spokesman for the Water Patrol, said that's normal for a weekend with so much water traffic.

"Four fatalities in a weekend; it's what we saw last Labor Day. It's not unusual, but it's higher than we would like to see. We'd like to see a fatality-free weekend every holiday weekend," said Callahan. 

A three-boat collision on the Osage River Saturday killed 33-year-old Curtis Libbert of Tebbetts and 46-year-old Alvin Blackford of Russellville and hospitalized four others. Callahan said alcohol could have had a factor in the crash.

The body of 93-year-old Alton Mos of Kansas City was found in Lake of the Ozarks Monday.  He was fishing on a dock when he fell into the lake. 

And a man drowned when he was swimming acorss a cove and went under water and didn't resurface.  Julio Mendoza, 22, of Kansas City, Kan., drowned at Smithville Lake on Sunday.

Callahan said none of the four people who drowned over the weekend were wearing life jackets.

"In all instances none of the fatality victims were wearing life jackets.  So, in particular the gentleman swimming across the cove or the guy who fell in, life jackets would have made a big difference - even in the boating fatalities," said Callahan.

The Missouri Highway Patrol also said ten people died on Missouri roadways during the holiday weekend - the same number of people who died on Labor Day Weekend 2010.  However, John Hotz, spokesperson for the Highway Patrol, said those numbers may increase.

"We have to be cognizant of the fact that these numbers are preliminary numbers and could increase because of late reporting or late deaths," said Hotz.

Hotz went on to say some lives could have been saved if victims were wearing their seat belts.

"One thing that was pretty common if you looked at the crashes was people who were not wearing their seat belts were killed in the crashes. In some of the crashes there were actually occupants who were wearing their seat belts who received moderate and much less severe injuries," said Hotz.

Hotz said Labor Day Weekend is the last "heavy-traffic" weekend of the summer, but expects a lot of motorists to be on the roads over Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays.  He said the Highway Patrol will continue to step-up enforcement on busy holidays.

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