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Van Buren County deputies promoting boater safety for warm weather weekend

With Memorial Day weekend ushering in the unofficial start of summer, people all over West Michigan are hitting the lakes and beaches – and law enforcement officers are reminding people to stay safe. (WWMT/Andrew Bisset)

With Memorial Day weekend ushering in the unofficial start of summer, people all over West Michigan are hitting the lakes and beaches – and law enforcement officers are reminding people to stay safe.

With countless boats on the water Saturday, marine deputies were out cracking down on speeders and making sure people were wearing lifejackets.

For many kayakers and boaters, today was the first time hitting the water in 2018.

“People can get crazy, especially on Memorial weekend,” Tiara Yoder of Granger, Indiana, said.

That's why Van Buren County marine deputies were on high alert looking for speeding boaters.

“Being the start of the season, we want to hit early and get people to know ‘hey, slow down. This is a no wake zone,’” Sgt. Nate Penning of the Van Buren County Sheriff’s Office said.

Steve Niewoonder's says regardless of the power he holds in his 2,000-horsepower vessel, he knows to play by the rules.

“We call it the ultimate weapon for a reason. It will run 120 [miles per hour],” Niewoonder said. “We've been here so long, they know the boat; they know I'm not an idiot. I don't do crazy stuff.”

But deputies are also making sure boaters are wearing life jackets. According to the Department of Natural Resources, more than 80 percent of drowning victims involved in boat accidents weren't wearing life preservers.

“We really want to promote [safety] when you get on the water. You're prepared for the worst, so if something happens, you're prepared.” Penning said.

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