- Associated Press - Tuesday, July 21, 2015

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (AP) - Missouri has already seen nearly as many drowning cases in the first seven months of this year as in all of 2014.

The Springfield News-Leader (https://sgfnow.co/1LA4k16 ) reports that two recent drowning deaths pushed the total in the state this year to 26, two fewer than all of last year.

The latest was Saturday, when 18-year-old Devron Looney of Sikeston jumped from a cliff into a water-filled quarry in eastern Missouri. A day earlier, 24-year-old William Chance of Belle Plain, Kansas, jumped from a dam into rolling water in the Elk River - the third drowning in the southwest Missouri river this year.

Flooding has been responsible for several deaths. Sgt. Jason Pace of the Missouri State Highway Patrol said several people have drowned when their vehicles were pushed off roadways by high water.

“We’ve also had several individuals who were swept off the banks of rivers into fast-moving water,” Pace said.

Water conditions on Missouri rivers and lakes can change quickly, Pace said, especially with all the rain that has occurred this summer.

“Always recognize that large amounts of rain can cause different conditions than what you might be used to,” Pace said. “After big rains there can be a lot of debris in the water and the water can be moving much faster than usual.”

The increase in drowning deaths comes even as boating-related fatalities have declined. Patrol statistics show five boating-related fatalities so far this year, on pace for about nine. Fifteen people died in boating-related fatalities in 2014.

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Information from: Springfield News-Leader, https://www.news-leader.com

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