Drownings on the rise in Arkansas
(KATV) - Saturday marks the first day of summer, but temperatures aren't the only thing on the rise in the Natural State. The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission says drownings have increased in Arkansas, including two people this week. So far this year, Arkansas has had at least 10 people drown. On Tuesday, 18-year-old Michael Ryan Baker drown while swimming in the Saline River. That same day, 16-year-old Evan Thomas was found dead at the Siloam Springs White Water Park in Northwest, Arkansas. Officials call it an accidental drowning. Saturday, the Baxter County Sheriff's office identified the man who was found dead on Lake Norfork Friday night. 67-year-old Jerry Dale Miller of Hardy, Arkansas had gone fishing alone Friday morning and never returned. According to Baxter County Sheriff John Montgomery, Millers' body was sent to the Arkansas State Medical Examiner to determine the cause and manner of death. "I think we're a little bit ahead of schedule on number of drowning this year, and summer just started today," said Steve "Wildman" Wilson of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission. Wilson says the best drowning prevention starts with education. So Game and Fish is holding a water safety initiative called Operation Dry Water, in an attempt to remind those spending time around water to wear a life jacket, no matter your age. Boating under the influence may result in fines up to $1,000 in addition to jail time of up to one year. Wilson says that the number one cause of accidents is those who aren't aware of what's around them. The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission are also looking to give out 'good' citations to children if they're caught following safety laws. Those citations are redeemable for ice cream.