Crowd at Big Creek Marina Puts Strain on Safety Crews

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POLK CITY, Iowa -- Fourth of July weekend is always a busy time at Big Creek Marina but this years crowd could be record-breaking.

With weather in the 80's, Marina Operator Mark Crawford says he isn't surprised. "When they call for nice weather like this people come out in droves," Crawford said.

Crawford estimates more than 300 people visited the lake on Saturday, the marina's first big turn out of the year. However, a large turn out is also putting a strain on officers responsible for keeping people safe.

"Our resources are spread a little thin," said Big Creek Park Manager Chad Kelchan.

Kelchan said all six of the park's staff worked both on land and on water, helping to monitor crowds and issue citations.

While the lake was relatively quiet and free from drunk boaters, his team did have to crack down on dozens of boaters not wearing life jackets.

"Usually they are tucked in the boat or tucked under a sidewall or something like that. If someone takes it out and doesn’t put it back, they don’t think about it when they launch the boat until its either too late or someone checks them," Kelchan said.

If a boat does not have a life jacket, Kelchan said they boaters are forced to go back to shore and may not re-enter the water until they have the proper number of life jackets for the passengers on board.

"It's the easiest thing to fix. It's the easiest thing to check before you go out and it just takes a few moments," Kelchan said.