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19 people cited for drunken boating on Lake Minnetonka over holiday weekend


Officials were busy on Lake Minnetonka this past weekend.

The Hennepin County Sheriff's Office and other officials handed out dozens of citations and responded to several medical calls on the lake over the Fourth of July holiday weekend, according to a news release.

"We saw a significant increase in underage consumption and BWI [boating while intoxicated] citations this year compared to last year," Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek said in the release.

The Hennepin County Sheriff's Office increased patrols over the holiday weekend, and said there would be "zero tolerance" for drunk boaters on Lake Minnetonka this year, the Lakeshore Weekly News reported.

Here's a look at the number of citations issued from Friday through Tuesday morning:

  • 19 people were cited for boating while intoxicated (BWI).
  • 58 people cited for underage consumption
  • 83 people received boat and water safety citations.
  • Two were cited for procuring alcohol for underage drinkers.
  • One person was arrested for giving false information to a peace officer.

And the medical calls:

  • Seven people transported to area hospitals (two for injuries received on the lake, five for alcohol use or substance abuse).
  • 10 people were seen at the new public safety dock for alcohol use or substance abuse on the Fourth of July alone – seven of them were seen by paramedics, but refused treatment. The other three (mentioned above) were taken to the hospital.

The new public safety dock

This weekend marked the first time law enforcement officials used the public safety dock near the Arcola Bridge.

Last summer, emergency responders called for changes after having trouble reaching people who needed help over Fourth of July weekend.

But the new $125,000 dock gives first responders a closer access point to Big Island – a popular partying spot on the lake. It cuts response time down by four to 10 minutes, the release says.

Drunken boating is the leading contributing factor to boating accidents and deaths in Minnesota and nationally, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources said. Over the past five years, 42 percent of fatal boating accidents in the state involved alcohol.

The sheriff's office says there were no fatalities on any of the 104 lakes or rivers in Hennepin County over the holiday weekend.

Cleaning up the lake

All of that drinking and partying leaves a pretty big mess.

Volunteers and the Hennepin County Sheriff's Office spent much of Tuesday cleaning up at Big Island following the weekend of festivities. According to the Star Tribune's Kelly Smith, volunteers nearly filled a barge with bags of beer cans and other trash in just a few hours.

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