MOUNDVILLE, Ala. (WIAT) — On July the 4th, authorities expect thousands of boaters to go boating on rivers and lakes in Alabama for Independence Day. That includes first responders in West Alabama like the Hale County Emergency Management Agency.
Director Russell Weeden says his team is preparing for a busy holiday on the Black Warrior River.
“Tomorrow the river will be full of people drinking and driving boats and we warn against that. And I hope last years tragedy will help deter that here on the Black Warrior River,” Weeden said.
For the first time, Hale County now has its own rescue boat, the County Commission was instrumental in helping to provide grant funds. Its a first for the EMA, they’ve never had a rescue boat until now. Last 4th of July, tragedy struck in Moundville after two boats collided killing two people. EMA crews had to borrow a boat to rescue survivors.
“Last year’s 4th of July accident was publicity for us in Hale County since we had two fatalities and several injuries. So it made the county commission and the probate judge realize that we really needed a boat.”
Victims Destiny Graben and Ricky Glover both lost their lives in the boat crash. Police say suspect Ricky Latham was driving his boat drunk, he was arrested and indicted on two counts of murder.
Russell Weeden is hoping nobody gets hurt this year, but if the unthinkable happens his team will be prepared to help with a new boat with lots of life-saving equipment on board.
“Our rescue boat has two backboards on it, and two slots on it so we can work on two patients at the same time while we are going down river that would have been nice to have last year. We have the life-saving ring and a rope to pull people out of the river”.
The new boat cost $20,000, every county first responder can use the boat. That includes law enforcement, Fire, and EMS.