LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — While National Park Service (NPS) rangers at Lake Mead reported no drownings over the Memorial Day weekend, hundreds of other incidents were recorded.
In total, the Lake Mead National Recreation Area recorded 568 incidents from Saturday to Monday, according to the agency’s public information officer. The incidents include:
- 252 warnings
- 48 citations
- 12 arrests
- 3 boat accidents
- 5 motor vehicle accidents
- 6 Emergency Medical Service calls
- 2 fires
- 22 search and rescue calls
Christa Johnston, chief of staff for the recreation area, did not elaborate on the arrests but did confirm “some citations for speeding and some drunk driving citations, arrests and tickets” were issued. Several of the warnings, she said, were made for the use of toys not meant for open bodies of water.
“We still have a lot of water out here, and the wind gusts take (pool toys) out pretty far very quickly,” Johnston said outside the Lake Mead National Recreation Area headquarters Tuesday morning. “Pool toys themselves come with their own warning label that they are not approved for open bodies of water. They’re called pool toys for a reason. Leave them there.”
While the official attendance numbers will likely not be announced until later this week, Johnston anticipates the amount to outweigh those of last year’s holiday weekend, which was in excess of 50,000 people.
Gail Kaiser, owner of Boating Lake Mead at the Las Vegas Boat Harbor, said she saw this change in attendance and acknowledged some of the visitors she saw were guilty of using pool toys.
“People don’t understand, especially with windy days like this weekend, that (pool toys are) very, very dangerous. But, you’re not going to stop it,” Kaiser said outside the store on the dock Tuesday morning.
In an email to 8 News Now, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission recently issued a fatal drowning warning for the summer as they’ve found drowning is the leading cause of unintentional death for children ages 1 to 4 years old.
Lake Mead National Recreation Area Deputy Superintendent Justin Pattison told 8 News Now last week that over 40 drownings have occurred on the lake in the past six years. “A lot of them were associated with the use of pool toys,” he said.
Johnston said the park’s ‘after-action report’ is currently being compiled and may be published in the coming week. She anticipates more visitors this summer than last year as water levels are increasing and all lunch ramps are open.
Johnston additionally recommends anyone planning to visit the recreation area to:
- Leave pool toys at home
- Bring potable water and salty snacks (to help fight dehydration)
- Check weather reports and social media alerts about launch ramp statuses
- Utilize sunscreen