Wednesday, September 04, 2013

Labor Day Weekend Boating Tragedies


Photo Courtesy of The U.S. Coast Guard.

When you do a search for the word "boating" on Google News on the day after Labor Day, and 7 out of the first 10 results are for stories about different boating accidents that involved casualties, you know it wasn't a banner weekend for boating safety.

One of the saddest things about the deaths that occurred on the water this past weekend is that so many of them were preventable. If a life jacket had been worn in (at least) one case, and if a boat wasn't speeding late at night in another. If that boat had a working carbon monoxide detector on board, and if those boat operators had been paying just a little more attention...


It was not a pretty weekend on the water here in the United States. Following are a few of the incidents that caught our attention. Hopefully, reading them will help us all to remember to stay focused on safety while boating any time of year, and to be extra vigilant when the waterways are crowded over holiday weekends like this.

Key Largo, Florida
A woman watched her boyfriend's swim off the back of a fishing boat turn into an unsuccessful fight for his life against a severe current on Saturday. The SunSentinel reported that she tried to throw him a life jacket, but he was too far away. Adding to the man's misfortune was the fact that his companion had never been on a boat before and did not know how to operate it.

Port Richey, Florida
A 29 year old man died after the 23' Boston Whaler he and two other people were riding in struck a channel marker shortly before midnight on Sunday evening, according to the Tampa Bay Times. A more recent article in the same publication stated the boat was traveling at somewhere between 25 and 45 mph headed out of the Pithlachascotee River into the Gulf of Mexico when the accident occurred, and that the victim's brother was at the helm. Results of the operator's blood test have not yet been released.

Lake of the Woods, Minnesota
Two men who were found dead from accidental carbon monoxide poisoning on Sunday after the boat that they and another man were in drifted ashore in northern Minnesota; a preliminary investigation indicates that a faulty exhaust system may have been the culprit, according to CBS Minnesota. If this seems strange, and you're wondering how this could happen on a boat (and how to prevent it), check out this article from the CDC: Prevent Carbon Monoxide Poisoning on Your Boat

Nashville, Tennessee
On Sunday morning, a 39 year old man was thrown from a deck boat and killed when the boat he was on collided with a 36-foot cabin cruiser on Percy Priest Lake. Of the four other passengers on the deck boat, only one seems to have been injured seriously, while all 8 passengers on the cruiser were unharmed according to WKRN-TV.