CHICAGO (WIFR) -- The number of boating deaths linked to alcohol on Illinois waterways has increased over the past five years.
Authorities are warning boaters to take the risks of drinking more seriously.
The Chicago Tribune reported Saturday (http://trib.in/NE4khX ) that nine people died last year in alcohol-related boating accidents. That's the highest number since 2004.
The U.S. Coast Guard says that nationally, Illinois ranked second in such fatalities, after Wisconsin.
This year, one boater who disappeared in May was found dead in the Rock River in Winnebago County after leaving a bar.
Capt. Joe Morelock of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources says drinking plays a role in almost all of the accidents they see. He says the department is struggling to maintain a police presence on waterways because of budget cuts.