DAUPHIN ISLAND, Ala. (WKRG) — It’s a tragedy people don’t want to see happen again. 22-year-old Quinton Zirlott was killed after a boat he was riding in crashed into the runway at the airport on Dauphin Island late Friday night. Four others were hurt. Boaters said something needs to be done to make the runway safer for boat traffic.
From the land, and in the middle of a sunny day the runway at Jeremiah Denton Airport is easy to spot–but boaters said after dark it’s a potentially deadly hazard. Officials said it’s something that should be looked at.
Jeff Collier, mayor: “Is there something more that can be done that would keep a similar occurrence from happening I think that’s the focus here,” said Mayor Jeff Collier. A friend of the young man who was killed started an online petition calling for changes to make the airport easier for boaters to see after dark. It garnered more than 3,000 signatures in less than 24 hours. The organizer of the petition argued if the runway was well lit at night for boaters tragedies like this could be avoided.
“It brings attention to the fact that there’s a runway there and it’s been there for a number of years, and if there’s anything we can do to prevent such tragic incidents from occurring we need to look at that,” said Collier. I talked to homeowners who live near the runway on De Soto Avenue–they said changes need to be made and boat crashes at the runway are far too common. Others agree.
“I think they should put some sort of a blinker or flasher there something to let people know there’s something out there. I don’t see the harm of putting a blinker just so people can see something’s there,” said Wendy McCain at the marina bait shop. The airport is owned by Mobile County not the island. A county spokesperson told News 5 that “the Dauphin Island Airport Manager and Mobile County officials will talk to FAA and Coast Guard to see if changes are warranted or possible and if so they’ll move forward accordingly.”