The body of a missing boater on Wheeler Lake was recovered Thursday morning in what’s been a deadly year on north Alabama waterways.

“This is the worst year I’ve seen in north Alabama in a long time, as far as the number of fatalities in a short span,” said Morgan County Rescue Squad Chief Danny Kelso. Six members of the all-volunteer rescue squad, including its dive team members, took part in the recovery efforts at Wheeler Lake on Thursday.

In that incident, the name of the missing man, Derek Lane, 56, of Athens, was released Wednesday.

“His body was discovered by a local fisherman (Thursday) morning,” said Sgt. Chad Pate of the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency’s Marine Patrol Division, in a release. He said Limestone/Athens Search & Rescue, the Morgan County Rescue Squad, the Limestone County Sheriff's Office and the Marine Patrol Division assisted with the recovery.

According to the Sheriff’s Office, the man reportedly either jumped or fell out of a boat Tuesday night as the boat was nearing the dock southwest of Athens.

Among other recent incidents, a Huntsville man was killed May 25 when he fell off the personal watercraft he was operating on the Tennessee River near Talucah Landing near Lacey’s Spring, according to ALEA’s marine patrol troopers. According to investigators, he was not wearing a personal flotation device.

Authorities say a Georgia man drowned at DeSoto State Park on Memorial Day and the drowning death of a 20-year-old man from Monroeville happened within the same week at the park.

And authorities are still investigating the Saturday night boat crash at Shoal Creek in Lauderdale County that killed a mother and her 5-year-old daughter, both from Augusta, Georgia, according to the TimesDaily.

A 12-year-old from the Vinemont area was killed on May 25 when he was hit by a boat near the Goat Island area of Smith Lake, according to marine patrol troopers. The boy had been tubing in the area before the crash, said troopers.

The search for Lane’s body at Wheeler Lake had resumed Thursday morning after weather and water conditions forced recovery efforts to be suspended Wednesday at 5 p.m.

Kelso stressed the importance of wearing life jackets and following boating regulations and laws.

“In the drownings we’ve responded to this year, no one was wearing a life jacket,” including the May 25 incident, another on the Tennessee River near Beulah Bay and one in February near Ingalls Harbor.

“I recommend wearing a life jacket. It saves lives,” Kelso said. or 256-340-2438. Twitter @DD_MAccardi.
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