Missouri drownings and traffic deaths increase in 2015

Thirty people have drowned in Missouri this year.

That’s more than drowned across the state in all of 2014, according to the Missouri State Highway Patrol.

The increase in drownings comes at the same time as a 6 percent increase in traffic accident deaths across Missouri, according to a statement released by the patrol Monday. The patrol urged people to take well-known safety precautions.

Some of the added danger this year involved motorists trapped in dangerous floodwaters, the patrol said. Drownings also claimed people who failed to wear life jackets while visiting recreational areas on lakes or streams. A majority of the traffic deaths involved people who were not wearing seat belts.

The water-related deaths have drawn attention this week, with four drownings and one near-drowning in the past five days. A 5-year-old St. Joseph girl died after she was pulled from the lake in Watkins Mill State Park on Thursday. She had wandered away from her family and was later found under water.

None of the recent drowning victims was wearing a life jacket, according to the patrol.

State officials urged motorists to avoid driving through fast-moving water and said people in or near Missouri waterways should wear life jackets or keep them within reach.

State law requires most drivers and passengers to wear seat belts.

About 63 percent of people killed in traffic accidents in Missouri this year were not wearing seat belts, though they were legally required to do so. So far, the state has counted 437 traffic deaths, compared with 412 during the same time in 2014.