The article below from last year reminds us again now that summer is almost here how important it is to always be safe when out on the water. Whether in a speed boat, fishing boat, pontoon boat, or personal watercraft (PWC), please be aware of the safety rules and watch out for other boaters and swimmers in the water. While there is nothing better than skiing or fishing on the lake, a moments inattention or carelessness can change your life and someone else’s life forever. And just like when driving a car on the road, designate a driver for the boat who will not be drinking. Unlike cars which have airbags and safety belts, boats do not. Even a minor impact can cause serious, life-threathening injuries. Finally, when pulling a skier behind your boat, please have separate people driving and watching for other boaters while a different person makes sure the skier is safe. If everyone follows these basic safety rules, we can all have a great boating season this 2012 summer.
The injury and criminal attorneys of Reeves, Aiken & Hightower LLP hope all families enjoy the lake this summer and go back to school with great stories and memories. We want everyone to be safe and get back home. If you or someone you love is injured or charged with boating under the influence (BUI), we are here to help. For more information about our lawyers, please visit www.rjrlaw.com. Compare our attorneys’ credentials to any other law firm. Then call us at 877-374-5999 for a private, confidential consultation.
Driver in deadly boat accident volunteers time in water safety class
by Lisa Edge
Posted: 05.27.2011

Thursday afternoon, Randy Shaw helped with a water safety class held at the Canal Street Recreation Center in Myrtle Beach. He knows first hand how important this class is.

Last August, he was driving a boat pulling two teenagers behind it on an inner tube. When he drove under a bridge, “The inner tube was supposed to track right behind the boat, and I don’t know why, but it drifted from behind the boat. It made contact with a piling,” said Shaw.

Allison Howell died, and another teenager was seriously injured. Shaw pled guilty to negligent boat operation. He paid a fine and was ordered to do community service.

“Since I couldn’t keep them safe that day because of a mistake that I made, then I’m going to try to keep other people safe in honor of Allison’s memory.” He continued, “You might think, awww I’ve done this 100 times, I’ve done it a thousand times, it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t take but once to take somebody’s life or injure somebody or permanently disfigure them.”

Shaw, who says he’s driven boats since he was a teenager, learned later he wasn’t supposed to pull an inner tube under a bridge. Since the accident he’s taken a boating safety class and has only been out on the water once. “It’s hard, it’s hard to get back. As much as I love the water, it’s hard to be able to to get back out there.”

Thursday, he joined Department of Natural Resources  officer Sgt. Kim Leverich as she shared with a group of kids the importance of wearing a life jacket. The advice isn’t just for them.

“We’re hoping by getting it across to these kids that maybe they can advise their parents, ‘Dad, that’s not the right size life jacket or Dad, I’m not supposed to be sitting on the bow like that,'” said Leverich.

According recent statistics from the U.S. Coast Guard, three-quarters of all fatal boating accident victims drowned and of those, 84% percent were not wearing life jackets.

“There’s actually certain life jackets that are belt life jackets that are approved by the Coast Guard that you can wear, so you can still have that bikini on and have something safe. There’s also inflatables that’s a U shape around your neck, and once you hit the water, it will inflate automatically,” said Sgt. Leverich.

Another big danger on the water is boating under the influence or BUI which is a criminal offense. The Coast Guard says it’s the leading contributing factor in fatal boating accidents. That, coupled with boater fatigue, which Leverich says happens after about four hours on the water, leads to slower reaction time.

She also sees another problem with boaters. “They’re not being courteous to other boaters. They’re not slowing down for the no wakes. They’re not slowing down within 50 feet of a swimmer or a dock or an anchored boat.”

This Memorial Day weekend, DNR officers will perform free safety checks.