Patrolling Illinois' waters

By Audrey Wise

July 4, 2013 Updated Jul 4, 2013 at 9:36 PM CDT

PEORIA, Ill -- On Illinois' waters last year there were 101 boating accidents and 17 fatalities. That's why conservation police are patrolling the waters Thursday night to help keep everyone safe.

Officials said due to limited resources they are only able to put conservation police on the Illinois River in the evening hours this year.

However, they will be checking in on boaters after the fireworks have ended, staying on the water until midnight or later.

Since the river levels are finally down and the weather is nice, this is the first big weekend for boaters.

Conservation Police Officer Scott Avery said safety will be a top priority, "If you're going to consume alcohol and operate a boat, that increases your chances of having an accident on the water, so that is definitely one of our targets that we're looking for is drunk boaters. As well as, anyone under the age of 13, 12 or under has to wear a personal flotation or life jacket all the time while they are on the water."

Avery said so far this year, there have not been any boating fatalities and they hope to keep it that way this holiday weekend and the rest of the summer.