AUGUST 28, 2013

Propeller strike on Roosevelt Lake claims life

Labor Day weekend boaters reminded to Boat Safe, Boat Smart and Boat Sober 
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PHOENIX – On Saturday, Aug. 17, the Gila County Sheriff’s Office responded to a 911 call where an adult male at Roosevelt Lake fell off a boat before reportedly being struck by the propeller. He died as a result of his injuries.

With the busy Labor Day weekend approaching, the accident serves as a reminder for boaters to exercise safe boating practices while on the water.

This year in Arizona, there have so far been 67 boating accidents, leading to 42 injuries and six fatalities.

One practice that boating officials advise against is bow-riding. Bow-riding generally occurs when passengers ride on or near a bow, sometimes with legs over the rail, or on a pontoon boat in areas forward of the deck gate.

“Three of Arizona’s boating fatalities this year involved bow-riders who fell over the bow and were struck by the boat propeller,” said Kevin Bergersen, Arizona Boating Law Administrator. “One was an 8 year old who fell off a pontoon boat at Lake Havasu.”

Bergersen said that if boat passengers ride on the bow, transom or gunnels (including the extension of extremities over the gunnels) at any speed more than wakeless, it is a violation of the law citable by statewide water-enforcement officers.

“Bow-riding regulations are more than just laws, they’re preventing flat-out tragedies,” Bergersen said. “These types of accidents can be avoided if boat operators insist on having their occupants sit in seats designed for conveyance of passengers.”

Another safety measure that officials emphasize is to wear a life jacket while you are on the water.

“Accidents can happen at an alarming speed anytime you are on or near the water, leaving little or no time to get to a stowed life jacket,” said Bergersen. “Wearing a life jacket can save your life.”

Boaters are also warned not to operate a boat while impaired by drugs or alcohol.

“You’re not only jeopardizing you, your passengers and other boaters, but you’re looking at strong penalties that are just as strict as those associated with drunk driving laws,” he said.
The department currently offers boating safety education free to the public. A simple, basic boating safety class can improve accident rates and possibly save the life of a loved one or friend.

Before taking a boat or personal watercraft to a lake, department law enforcement officers encourage watercraft users to wear life jackets in the water, keep an eye on their passengers, take a boating safety class, ensure their vessels are safe with the appropriate equipment on board, and that operators of boat or personal watercraft be sober.

To sign up for a boating safety course, call the Arizona Game and Fish Department at 623-236-7219.

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