More patrolling coming to waterways, officials say

Published: Jul. 14, 2022 at 5:32 PM CDT|Updated: Jul. 14, 2022 at 6:12 PM CDT

ASCENSION PARISH, La. (WAFB) - First responders and law enforcement are cracking down on river safety after five fatalities.

Halfway through the year, the La. Department of Wildlife and Fisheries reports 20 deaths on the water statewide.

“How can we go two or three years without having any accidents on our waterways, without having any fatalities, and then this year we’re halfway through the summer. We already recorded five fatalities in this area,” Ascension Parish Sheriff Bobby Webre explained.

Five families in the capital region are grieving their loved ones lost in accidents on the water this summer.

“We just want you to go home the way you came out here, that’s our goal and that’s our mission,” explained Sgt. Randy Lanoux with LDWF.

LDWF agents say a lot of these accidents could have been prevented, encouraging people to put their safety first.

“We can do what we can do, but the public has to help out a little bit. Be smart when you come out here, that is all we ask,” added Lanoux.

The top violations from boaters, operating the boat while drinking, not wearing life jackets, or allowing their family and friends to ride without a life jacket.

“When you come out there, you need to be smart. So just because the law says you don’t wear a life jacket, please wear one. A life jacket alone will prevent over 80% of these accidents that we have,” said Lanoux.

Many times when there is a fatality on the river, it requires all hands on deck. Multiple parishes are called to help out, even volunteer firefighters.

“It takes a village whenever we have an emergency on the water, and we have to get out there and try to locate somebody that might be missing on the water,” explained James Leblanc, the fire chief of St. Amant.

Wildlife and Fisheries are sending out more manpower to patrol the water this summer and will do more boat safety stops, whatever it takes to keep you safe.

LDWF will also be giving out more citations if you are speeding or traveling in a no-wake zone.

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