Reflecting signs installed at Dauphin Island Airport two months after deadly boat wreck

The death of a boater in July has resulted in some changes being made at Dauphin Island Airport.
Published: Sep. 24, 2022 at 10:55 PM CDT
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MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) - In July, 22-year-old Quinton Zirlott was tragically killed after he was ejected from a boat that crashed into the concrete wall of the Dauphin Island Airport runway.

Zirlott’s close friend, Cameron Gilbeaux, immediately launched a petition to light up the runway. He reached over 7,500 signatures.

FOX10 News spoke to Lisa Vail in July-- one of many locals who signed the petition.

“I absolutely think something needs to be done, you know, it’s a precaution and these accidents that have happened there before-and people can say what they want to say-but if there had been lights out there, this could have stopped that from happening,” said Vail.

This wasn’t the first time an accident occurred near the airstrip.

“This is the first fatality that I can recall, but obviously one is too many and I think we owe it to ourselves and the safety of the voting public to do a thorough look at the situation and just determine if we can do something better,” stated Jeff Collier, Mayor of Dauphin Island.

Mobile County Commissioner Randall Duiett says Mobile County put up around 30 reflective signs--warning boaters of the runway’s location. He says he hopes it will make the concrete area around the runway more visible.

Duiett also says the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulates the airport-- and hasn’t allowed lights to be put up.

Meanwhile, the Dauphin Island Airport says the signs are highly reflective, standing 200 feet apart. Signs are lined up with each runway light.

FOX10 sat down with Zirlott’s family.

Although they did not wish to go on camera, they say they’re glad action is being taken-but they feel like lights are necessary.

Zirlott’s parents are asking FAA for a compromise-- to light up the area for boats without interfering with a pilot’s vision.

Gilbeaux had to agree.

He says he is happy the signs are put up “because that is better than nothing.” He encourages people to continue signing the petition.

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