22 deaths so far on Alabama waterways for 2019

By  | 

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) -- The 2019 Independence Day holiday period (June 30 - July 7) was a deadly one on Alabama’s waterways.

Preliminary numbers from the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency Marine Patrol Division indicate there were 12 boating crashes across the state, which resulted in six deaths. That’s more than double the number of crashes from the previous two years and three times as many deaths for the same time frame.

Year-to-date for 2019, there have been 64 boat crashes resulting in 22 deaths. That means 2019 has already passed the total number of deaths for all of 2018 and 2017.

For all of 2018, ALEA Marine Patrol says there were 75 boat crashes resulting in 17 deaths. Six of those boat crashes happened during the July 4 holidays causing the deaths of two people.

For all of 2017, ALEA Marine Patrol says there were 86 boat crashes resulting in 19 deaths. Five of those boat crashes happened during the July 4 holidays but none included a death.

On Lake Jordan in Elmore County, two people were killed and five others were injured after a crash late on the night of July 4. Crews have since found the bodies of both victims, 26-year-old Devin Jackson and 17-year-old Travis House.

On Smith Lake, about 20 miles northwest of Birmingham, one person was killed and five others were injured after two boats collided. The search for the missing victim, identified as 26-year-old Birmingham school teacher Kelsey Starling, is ongoing. One person was arrested in that case for boating under the influence.

In another incident on Smith Lake, a 12-year-old girl was killed and two other children were injured. All three are confirmed to be Mississippi residents, but few other details were available.

Crews found the body of a missing fisherman at Cosby Lake in Clay on July 3. Russell “Rambo” Patterson, 36, had disappeared the day before.

Crews also found the body of another kayaker on the Elk River in Limestone County. Michael Rynders, 39, of Athens, died after his kayak capsized on July 3. He wasn’t wearing a life jacket when he vanished. His body was found on July 5.

There was one non-boating death for the holiday period after a swimming incident on Lay Lake. A helicopter spotted the body of James Patton Hill, 25, of Wilsonville, on Monday morning. He was swimming near Bozo’s Fish Camp, in an area known as Low Water or Blue Springs, when he was caught in a storm. Officials said high winds pushed his boat out and while trying to catch up with it, he went under.

Copyright 2019 WSFA 12 News. All rights reserved.

Read the original version of this article at wsfa.com.