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Boats Collide on Mississippi River near Burlington, Iowa; Four Dead

Two jon boats, which are aluminum flat-bottomed boats, collided on the Mississippi River near Burlington, Iowa, at around 2:00 a.m. on Saturday. Both boats, at 18 and 20 feet long, were being used to transport revelers from where they were partying on a river sandbar back to shore. One boat was empty of passengers with one driver, and the other boat held a total of eleven people.

When the boats collided, the bow of the boat which was full of people was sheered away; all eleven people were thrown into the river. The operator of the other boat picked up seven of those people, none of whom incurred life-threatening injuries. Four people remained missing until Sunday, when they were found dead near the crash site. Those who died are listed as Jacob Boyd, 22; Matthew House, 21; Blake Eakins, 21; and Caitlyn Atchley, 20, all of Burlington, Iowa.

According to reports, there was no moonlight at the time and at least one of the boats did not have running lights on. Both boats had life jackets on board as per Iowa law, but no one was wearing them (adults in Iowa are not required to wear them). The boat with the eleven people may have been overloaded. Both boat operators have been tested for alcohol. The investigation continues.

May 19 to May 25 is National Safe Boating Week. With Memorial Day weekend coming up, Iowan governor Trerry Branstad stressed the importance of being alert and prepared on roads and on water, and wearing a life jacket while on the water.

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