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TWRA officers patrol heavy holiday lake traffic

By Meredith Machen, mmachen@wcyb.com
Published On: May 27 2013 04:36:03 PM CDT
Updated On: May 26 2013 11:00:00 PM CDT

Boaters, rev your engines. Lake season is finally here! With more people on the water Monday soaking up the last rays of the long holiday weekend, officials are increasing their presence to keep you safe.

WASHINGTON COUNTY, Tenn. -

Boaters, rev your engines. Lake season is finally here!

With more people on the water Monday soaking up the last rays of the long holiday weekend, officials are increasing their presence to keep you safe.

Under the summer-like sun, it's a boater's paradise out on Boone Lake.

Kim Fields and her three sons have big plans to make the most of it this Memorial Day. "[We're] going to be doing some tubing, some knee boarding, some skiing, [and] swimming," said Fields.

She's far from the only one with that idea. The water has proven irresistible for boaters over the past three days, and the traffic is picking up with the temperatures.

However, the added traffic isn't all for fun. We rode along with Officer Matt Swecker with the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency as part of their increased patrols on the water.

All weekend, he's kept a constant eye on lake activity and enforcing the rules. "We work on reasonable suspicion; visual violation before we stop a boat," Swecker said.

Some of the things officers are looking for:

Is everything properly registered?    

Are you properly operating your vessel?    

Is the right number of life jackets on your boat?

Officers are also warning you that this year, you'll want to keep an eye on the lake itself. Heavy spring rain has washed a lot of debris into the water, creating something of a floating obstacle course on the water.

Take it from boater Shevonne Chesnut, who says "there's still a lot of stuff in the water. Logs, sticks, I mean the water's still kind of murky, too."

If you're not careful, another accident could be lurking beneath the water's surface. "Some portions of the lake that may have submerged islands. [They] may be covered up, so always be on the lookout," Swecker explained.

Being on a constant lookout is what might be the difference between a fun day on the lake and tragedy. "[We] just kind of watch out for each other," said Fields.

TWRA officials told us their patrols don't end with the holiday; they'll be out all summer long.   

As for this weekend, Swecker told News 5 this Memorial Day holiday has been a relatively safe one; he's written fewer than ten citations and has not responded to any major accidents.