Sunday, August 28, 2005

Death on Lake Gaston

Random Jetski pic
Originally uploaded by Urbain.
While much of the country is focused on Hurricane Katrina bearing down on the Gulf Coast, we enjoyed a beautiful day here in southeastern Virginia and northeastern North Carolina. A great day to go boating.

Sadly, turns out today was also a day for death on Lake Gaston which straddles the Virginia/North Carolina boarder. The lake is some 20,000 acres of man-made fun.

This afternoon a boat crew from Coast Guard Station Little Creek was at the lake; they go down several times a summer to show the flag, enforce federal boating laws, and educate the boating public. Today, they also attempted to save the lives of several teenagers who had been involved in an accident: two jetskies -- aka personal water craft -- collided.

The Coasties arrived on scene about five to ten minutes after the accident. Two people remained in the water, and the Coasties leapt into the water to attempt to rescue the youngsters. They pulled both of them from the water. One person was already deceased; the other was unconscious and, at last report, was in very serious condition at the hospital and may not make it through the night.

Local authorities are investigating the accident (that's usual). While I don't know for sure, I suspect speed played a factor in the accident, as did recklessness and a lack of common sense. You can be pretty sure they weren't following the "rules of the road." And, just knowing how things are, I'd suspect alcohol was involved; that's usually the case, anyway.

Folks, last week it was personal flotation devices... oh, and one collision due to excessive speed and alcohol... today it was collision due to excessive speed and recklessness. Boating safely means using your head: wear the damn personal flotation devices and don't be reckless; follow the rules of the road. Everyone who gets underway should know basic boating safety -- and particularly if you're going to be at the wheel or at the helm. Try this online course here.

So, the local tally here today: one dead and another barely hanging on to life... and a crew of Coasties who tried to safe lives and are likely sitting in their hotel right-about-now and wondering where they went wrong. They didn't go wrong; the boaters involved went wrong. And that, my friends, is really sad and really troubling, because it's needless.

Boat safe, please.

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