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Rangers stressing water safety as more people head to Lake Mead


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Rangers stressing water safety as more people head to Lake Mead

By Bryan Callahan. CREATED May 23, 2014

Las Vegas, NV (KTNV) -- Memorial Day marks the unofficial start of summer, and that means it will be a very busy weekend on Lake Mead.

With four presumed drownings at Lake Mead this year, and two children nearly drowning last week, rangers are making safety a priority as boats filed in for the holiday weekend.

Long lines of boats waiting to get in the water are expected to be the norm at Lake Mead for the next few days, as hundreds of thousands of visitors aim to have some fun.

"My son just had surgery last week. He's fighting leukemia. We came out, wanted to get in the water for the first time," said one local mother.

Over Memorial Day weekend, officials are expecting 300,000 visitors and said with that amount of people, they often see many of the same problems associated with a small city.

"When this beach is packed, you'll have anything from assaults to domestics. Anything that happens when you get alcohol involved," said one park ranger.

As boats and jet skis launch, they're doing so under the watchful eye of the rangers and wardens who are looking for three main violations.

"I'm looking for impaired boaters, reckless operations and most importantly in my book is children in personal flotation devices," said Warden Adam Bonaparte with the Nevada Department of Wildlife.

Rangers aren't expecting much wind this weekend, but boaters are still advised to be cautious.

They also said anyone who hasn't been out to the lake this year should take it slow at first, because some hazards have popped up due to lower water levels.

"Lake Mead is almost 20 feet lower this year compared to last Memorial Day weekend," said Christie Vanover, park spokesperson. "These water levels create advantages and disadvantages. Lake Mead is still a huge body of water, and now there are more coves and beaches for recreating, but visitors should take it slow on the water because new hazards have surfaced."

Aids to Navigation crews have marked new hazards, but others may exist. To report a notice to mariners, call (702) 293-8778.

Bryan Callahan

Bryan Callahan

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Bryan Callahan joined the Action News team as a general assignment reporter in August of 2013.