By John Marks
LAKE WYLIE –Summer boating season isn’t waiting until summer this year. But safety experts say they’re ready.
The unofficial launch to boating season generally comes with Memorial Day. But an almost nonexistent winter and warm temperatures earlier in 2012 already has traffic spiking on Lake Wylie.
“During this time of year we are seeing mostly fishermen with the weekend lake population beginning to grow, especially with the recent warm weather,” said Sgt. Brent Mabry with the York County Sheriff’s Office lake patrol.
Groups such as the Lake Wylie Marine Commission and law enforcement agencies along the lake gear up with boating season to help keep problems on the water from becoming collisions or even fatalities.
A general concern for the summer season is human-powered boats and motorized ones sharing space.
Joe Stowe, executive director of the Lake Wylie Marine Commission, already had a call from a group of scullers in a cove saying motor boats were coming too close. Needing the calm waters of early morning and sitting low to the water, scullers crews are vulnerable in low light conditions.
“They’re having problems with people seeing them on the lake,” Stowe said.
The commission also is looking into how kayakers and paddle boarders share the lake with fishing boats, ski boats and personal watercraft. Along with its law enforcement partners, the commission wants to stay “ahead of the accidents” that could prove dangerous.
“They’re out in the middle of the lake with no good way to identify them, and you have speed boats coming at 30 and 40 miles an hour, and the two meet,” Stowe said.
Commissioner Terry Everhart also is a lake patrol officer for Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department. Everhart isn’t interested in writing more tickets or even introducing more laws, but instead wants to see if the commission can find simpler approaches to sharing a public waterway.
“What I want is to make it safe for everybody,” he said. “I want to encourage everybody to come out and have a safe time.”
Of particular interest is the area on the northern reach of Lake Wylie between the U.S. National Whitewater Center and Tailrace Marina.
That area is used by paddlers who rent kayaks, but there also are blind turns and substantial motor boat traffic. The commission plans to contact rental spots there to see what instruction is being given to paddlers. Everhart hopes through educating the different types of boat users on the lake, his group can avoid a push toward sectioning off areas for specific uses through no wake zones or other methods.
“The lake’s still big enough and people are still considerate enough to where you can work something out,” he said.
Safety in officers
One issue that shouldn’t be of concern is the presence of law enforcement. Officers generally spend more time in the water during peak use seasons – warm weekends and all summer – but have at times had to stretch patrol hours in the past several years due to fewer available man hours.
Fishing tournaments are way up, and casual boating is revving toward the summer.
But so is law enforcement.
The agencies representing both states and all through counties surrounding Wylie have at least as many boats and officers as last year. In North Carolina, there’s one more shared position for use on Wylie and Mountain Island Lake.
“Right now there are two of us on the lake full-time, and we will be supplemented this summer with four school resource officers,” said Mabry, whose jurisdiction includes 44 percent of the bi-state lake.
Some law enforcement personnel recently attended an international boating safety conference, where they learned new techniques.
Other methods – always wearing life jackets, a sober driver – are older than the lake itself.
Everhart does hope to curb a trend toward wakesurfing, where riders are in close proximity to the props.
He also imagines that there will be more boaters heading to sandbars or other spots to anchor for the day, a trend common to high gas price years.
Yet he doesn’t see fewer boats in the lake’s forecast.
“There’s been a lot of folks out using the lake,” Everhart said.
Stowe hopes the issues he’s heard about can be resolved, and those plans will help boaters throughout the lake.
“It’s important that people know we’re having problems, and we are trying to deal with those problems,” he said.
As with neighboring county and state agencies, Mabry said the main goal isn’t writing tickets or dampening a day on the water.
“Our main objective this summer, as it has been in past years, is for everyone to enjoy the lake and return home safely at the end of the day,” he said.
The personal injury and criminal attorneys of Reeves, Aiken & Hightower LLP have over 70 years of trial experience. Whether you have been injured in a boating accident or charged with boating under the influence (BUI), we can help. For more information about our lawyers and firm, please visit www.rjrlaw.com. For a private, confidential consultation about your case, call us at 877-374-5999. Be Safe. Get Home.
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
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.
With spring here and summer months rapidly approaching, this article from our friends at News 14 should remind us all of the need to be safe on the water. Whether boating or skiing on Lake Wylie, Lake Norman, or Lake Murray, please be mindful of others and always follow the rules. Also, every year, people are injured or worse from those who have too much to drink while operating speed boats or personal water crafts (PWC). The attorneys at Reeves, Aiken & Hightower, LLP, wish everyone a great summer. Be Safe. Get Home.
At Reeves, Aiken & Hightower, LLP, all of our attorneys are seasoned trial lawyers with over 70 years combined experience. Whether it is criminal or civil, our litigators are regularly in Court fighting for our clients. Two of our firm’s partners, Art Aiken and Robert Reeves, are inducted lifetime members of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum. Mr. Reeves has also been named one of the Top 100 lawyers for South Carolina in 2012 by the National Trial Lawyers Organization. Our attorneys include a former SC prosecutor, a former public defender, a former NC District Attorney intern, a former Registered Nurse (RN), and former insurance defense attorneys. As a result of their varied backgrounds, they understand the potential criminal, insurance, and medical aspects of complex injury cases. We would welcome an opportunity to sit down and personally review your case. Compare our attorneys’ credentials to any other law firm. Then call us today at 803-548-4444 or 704-499-9000 for a private consultation. Or visit our firm’s website at www.rjrlaw.com
Suspects wanted in boat hit-and-run on Lake Wylie
By: News 14 Carolina Staff
CHARLOTTE – Police and South Carolina wildlife officials are looking for four people involved in a boating accident on Lake Wylie.
Two fishermen said they were near the Buster Boyd Bridge Saturday evening when they saw a boat heading right for them. The boat hit the fishermen, knocking one of them into the water.
Three people from the other boat also fell in, but they climbed back into their boat and took off, leaving the two fishermen stranded in the dark. The fishermen are OK, but now they’re offering their own money for information leading to an arrest.
Dan Jarrell, who lives on the lake, saw the whole thing.
“You could hear him scream for help,” Jarrell said.
He jumped in his boat to go help.
“The one boat was sitting still and the other boat was coming down stream about that speed and they hit each other,” Jarrell said. “It was loud enough to get everybody’s attention.”
Authorities describe the boat as a white 16- or 17-foot Neptune-style Walkabout, an open-bow boat. It should have very visible damage to the left front side.
The South Carolina Division of Natural Resources is checking local marinas in search of the vessel.
“So far, we haven’t come up with a boat,” Private 1st Class Jeff Vissage said.
But authorities are asking everyone to be on the lookout, because they believe the boat will show up somewhere soon.
“Maybe someone on that boat will start getting a guilty feeling and call us and say, ‘Hey, this isn’t right. I want to do the right thing.'” Vissage said.
Anyone who sees the boat should call York County Crime Stoppers at 1-877-409-4321.
Celebrating our firm’s 100th blog, the attorneys of Reeves, Aiken & Hightower, LLP, want to announce the official opening of its office in Lake Wylie, South Carolina.
From our location in the Lake Wylie Business Centre, we can now serve our clients from Lake Wylie, Clover, York, and Gastonia. The office is located beside the Bi-Lo shopping center and behind the BB&T Bank and new Auto Bell carwash off Highway 55.
Our attorneys look forward to taking care of families whose members have been victims of personal injury through no fault of their own. Whether hurt on the job or on the road, we are here to help you get through some of the most difficult times of your life. We will be there for you and beside you every step of the way.
Our firm handles all personal injury cases, including automobile accidents, large truck accidents, motorcycle accidents, boating accidents, pedestrian accidents, injuries to children, workers’ compensation cases, head injury, brain injury, nursing home abuse or neglect cases, and wrongful death. Our criminal practice includes DUI and DWI, drug charges, criminal domestic violence, and probation violations.
Our lawyers are seasoned trial attorneys with over 70 years combined litigation experience. They have varied backgrounds including former insurance defense lawyers, former prosecutor, former public defender, former Registered Nurse (RN), and former District Attorney’s office intern. Two of our founding partners are inducted lifetime members of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum. Another partner was just named one of the top 100 lawyers by the National Trial Lawyers for SC in 2012.
We invite you to compare our attorneys’ credentials to any other law firm. Then call us for a private consultation. We welcome an opportunity to sit down and personally review your injury or criminal case. Call us today at 803-554-4157 and please visit our website for more information at www.rjrlaw.com.