Ahead of holiday weekend, Kentucky woman warns of drinking and boating after losing leg in crash
It's illegal for both passengers and drivers to drink alcohol while on a boat on any public waters.
TAYLORSVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – One of the busiest boating weekends of the year could also be considered one of the most dangerous.
For many people, Fourth of July weekend means time with spent with family and friends on a boat with the wind through your hair. But the holiday weekend also marks a dark anniversary for Alex Otte.
“There was a lot of recovery that came initially right after the cash and then still recovery to this day,” Otte told WDRB News.
Seven years ago on Herrington Lake, Otte was sitting on a jet ski when a bass boat crashed into her.
“He was going a little over 60 mph," she said. "He hit me from the side, threw me off, went up over the jet ski, then came down on top of me."
Otte sustained extensive injuries, including a severe brain injury, broken neck, and her right leg had to be amputated. Doctors told her there was no reason she should be alive.
She said the driver of the boat's Blood Alcohol Concentration was at least three times over the legal limit to be driving a boat, a problem conservation officers said they often deal with.
“As the temperature goes up, the beers gets colder," said Sgt. Scott Herndon, who patrols Taylorsville Lake with the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife. "And you notice when it gets hotter, there's more drinking going on,."
As part of Operation Dry Water, officers will have an increased enforcement over the holiday weekend on Kentucky waterways in hopes of cutting down on drinking and boating.
“Water and alcohol do not mix," Herndon said. "In the state of Kentucky, it is illegal to drink alcoholic beverages anywhere on any public waters. That's any public waters."
That means it's illegal for both passengers and drivers on boats. Officers also said they know all tricks in the book.
“We're not the people trying to break up the party," Herndon said. "We're the people trying to get you to go home safely."
And if getting home safely after a fun weekend starts with hearing Otte’s story, her journey will not be in vain.
“I've been through a whole lot, but I firmly believe that if what happened to me causes one person to push away the extra beer or get a designated driver, then it's all worth it,” Otte said.
Conservation officers add drinking and boating is often more dangerous than drinking and driving, because a boat has less control.
A person can be arrested and fined for boating under the influence.
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