Lighthouse Installed Two Years After Burlington, IA Boat Tragedy - News and Weather For The Quad Cities -

Lighthouse Installed Two Years After Burlington, IA Boat Tragedy

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A lighthouse, memorializing the young people involved in an accident that devastated the Burlington community back in 2012.

Four died, eight were hurt when two boats shuttling partiers to and from shore collided in the dark on the O'Connell Slough.

The goal, to remind everyone about the potential dangers of the Mississippi River and to prevent accidents like that one.

"The mighty Mississippi's a beautiful thing, but also can take away from you pretty darn quick," said member of the River Rat Safety Awareness Organization Scott Smith.

That's something Louise Butherus knows all too well. She lost her 21-year old son in that boating tragedy nearly two years ago.

Her friend and fellow member, Carlos approached her with the idea of the River Rat Safety Awareness Organization. She joined in, hoping to help others.

"I can't ignore the fact that it's very personal to me and hopefully it resonates with everybody as personally as it does with me," said Butherus.

It took $20,000 to install the lighthouse, every penny collected from donations and fund-raisers in the greater Burlington community.

"If we can save one life just because they remember to wear a life jacket or to do something that they shouldn't be doing it will be worth it to us," said member of the River Rat Safety Awareness Organization Carlos Capdevila.

But the group isn't stopping with the lighthouse...

"The lighthouse and future things we want to do, we'll have signs that will be built at all the boat docks up and down this part of the Mississippi just to bring awareness that, have a great time out there however respect the Mississippi because it can take our loved ones away," said Smith.

Louise said working on this project has helped her heal, but it wasn't something could have done on her own.

"We just knew it was something that was going to happen and we knew it was meant to be," said Butherus.

Next for the group, becoming a non-for profit organization with the hope of expanding new chapters across the area along the river.

"We're here together, we've got to look out for each other, we've got to protect each other and never forget the memory of each other," said Smith. "Live that day, because tomorrow's not promised to us."

The lighthouse is a 19th Century replica. The River Rat Safety Awareness Organization bought it from Michigan.

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