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Officials Urge For Statewide Water Safety After 5 Deaths

South Dakota Game Fish and Parks

5 people have died in swimming and boating related accidents in South Dakota so far this year. 

In one case a man drowned in Pactola Lake after jumping off his boat to go swimming. In another case a swimmer without a lifejacket died in Lake Madison. 

Officials say reducing alcohol consumption and increasing lifejacket use improves the chances of an accident free day on the water.

Brandon Gust is with South Dakota Game Fish and Parks. He says accident records show the best action boaters, swimmers and kayakers can take is to wear a lifejacket.

“We have deep, dark waters in the state, and sometimes people have that feeling of safety because they’re good swimmers or they’ve done plenty of time on the water and don’t feel a need to have a lifejacket on when they’re in the water, but so many things can happen when you get on our lakes. Even to have one with you, or better yet on you, can go a long way sometimes in preventing some of those tragedies," says Gust.

Gust recommends limiting drinking when on the water.  He also stresses the importance of reading the state’s boating handbook for laws and regulations and being aware of weather forecasts.