In the span of a week in July 2012, three deaths prompted all lakeside property owners to reevaluate the maintenance of their docks as the safety of hundreds of thousands of summer Lake of the Ozarks swimmers was put in jeopardy.
On July 4, two children, Alexandra and Brayden Anderson were electrocuted near a dock while enjoying a typical summer dip in the lake at the 6.5 mile marker.
Again on July 7, faulty electricity caused the electrocution of 26-year-old Jennifer Lankford as she swam at the 4 mile marker. The resulting reaction was just short of panic as homeowners raced to check their docks before a tragedy occurred in the water.
Within a month of the deaths, code officials met to discuss dock safety, the Village of Four Seasons offered to inspect residents' docks for free and a public forum was held to address proper dock maintenance and safety. In the month following the electrocution, the Sunrise Beach Fire Marshal's Office received 23 hot dock calls and more than 500 calls about proper wiring.
And although boating incidents and other mishaps dipped in 2012 according to the Missouri State Water Patrol, docks permits are expected to tighten in 2013.
At the first of the year, dock permit applications on the Lake of the Ozarks will require a permit from participating governmental agencies in advance showing that the dock has passed an electrical inspection. Ameren Missouri will be requiring proof of the fire district permit in advance of issuing a dock permit rather than requiring it is a condition of approval.