Lower lake levels causing more hazards for boaters

PHOENIX (KSAZ) -- This time of year, lakes around the state are packed with boaters, but water levels are continuing to to drop at Lake Pleasant and a number of other Arizona lakes, and that's causing more boating accidents out on the waters.

One boater, Ryan Taylor, said he was out on the lake with seven children on Labor Day with seven children.  He was being careful with all those children on his boat, but he still ended up crashing into a rock that was not marked.

"Just out of nowhere, our boat went almost vertical," said Taylor.

Taylor described the horrific scene that unfolded.

"Basically, my four-year-old daughter was sitting right up here in the front, and she launched over the tower, flew about 40 feet," said Taylor.

Thankfully, everyone was wearing life jackets, and no one was hurt. Taylor, however, is now questioning why the rock wasn't marked, like the others. 

"Everybody's pretty traumatized by it," said Taylor. "I watch my four-year-old daughter fly over the boat, and it was pretty scary."

"If you see a buoy that's got a diamond on it, that's indication there's a hazard in the area in the facility," said Josh Hoffman, with Arizona Game and Fish.

Game and Fish officials, however, add that that's not always the case, with water levels being especially low this year.

"Nor is there a guarantee that all the hazards in the lake are marked. That's particularly true this time of year," said Hoffman.

Charles Brown with Octane Marine says he's seen twice the number of customers come in needing repairs, because of obstacles with the lower water levels. He estimates the damage to Taylor's boat will total a whopping $20,000.

"Looking expensive, so with obstacles that he had underneath, the engine needs to come out of the boat, the transmission," said Brown.

Taylor says he's now filed a claim with Maricopa County Risk Management, because the county didn't mark the rock.

"I guess my warning, I don't know if I'll be spending time out there anymore when it's that low," said Taylor. "The water is that low."

The water levels could drop 10 to 7 feet since your last visit, place that was safe to end up on the plane yesterday might not be safe tomorrow. So check the water levels right before you take your boat out.

Meanwhile, Arizona Game and Fish offers boat safety classes, and officials with the Maricopa County Parks Department say their crews have marked that specific rock that Taylor crashed into, since the accident.

Maricopa County's Risk Management Department is now looking into Taylor's claim.

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