Benton County Sheriff's boat patrols finish for the year - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Benton County Sheriff's boat patrols finish for the year

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KENNEWICK, Wash.-- Many people took to the water this weekend to enjoy some boating and deputies were out on the water to make sure everyone stayed safe.

Many people did go boating this holiday weekend, but deputies say there were actually fewer people on the water than in previous years or even the usual weekend.

The Benton County Sheriff's patrol boats monitor the Columbia River all summer long for BUIs, accidents and safety checks.

This weekend they only had one BUI and a single boat accident when a boat ran aground. They did respond to an incident Saturday when a woman jumped off a boat, but couldn't swim and needed to be rescued.

Benton County Deputy Martin Gilley says, the big thing deputies are focused on is safety. They count how many people are on board the boat so there's no over loading. They also check to make sure there are life jackets onboard and they're being used at the appropriate times.

"The primary purpose out here is protection of the public and their safety. Make sure that all the boaters that go out and enjoy the waters come back at the end of the day," says Gilley.

Over the course of this summer, deputies conducted around three hundred boat safety checks. They will write a citation if boaters don't have all the proper equipment, or if they aren't using it correctly. They say they've also written up more citations this year for drivers without a boater education card.

Monday is the last scheduled patrol of the year, but the sheriff's boat will be on the water to monitor the upcoming Columbia Crossing Swim event later this month.

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