Officials push boating safety after accidents

May 31, 2010 6:15:12 PM PDT
Local parks and lakes have been filled with people trying to make the most out of this holiday weekend, but there have been a few tragic accidents.

On Sunday at Lake Houston, two young boys were injured, one of them critically, when a wakeboarder hit them while they were being towed behind a boat in a tube. And Sunday night, a man who was boating with his family along Lake Conroe died after the boat capsized in rough waters.

A game warden is leading the investigation in connection to the Lake Conroe drowning. So far, they know it's not alocohol-related, and they believe everyone aboard had life jackets.

However, the story serves as a reminder for the importance of life jackets and how you need to make sure they fit you right.

Checking for life jackets is a familiar routine for game Warden Kevin Glass, but it's also a crucial one during a holiday boating weekend.

"Obviously, if they're torn, they're not serviceable," Glass said. "If you are not the proper size, they may not float you."

Glass tries to pass that message along to every boat he stops.

After all, it was just Sunday that a boat capsized and one man drowned. The storm moved quickly, and the family involved was tied up under that bridge. That's why game wardens say safety is so important.

Glass says the message of safety is especially important for younger boaters. They're inexperienced and often don't realize just how crucial simple safety devices can be.

"The operator of the boat is responsible for everybody on board, the ladies in front and the guys in the back, and he needs to know where everything is at," Glass said.

In one case, a young man got a warning and a lesson on the importance of water safety, something experienced boaters say they've seen in action on the lake.

"They check you for life jackets and stuff like that," boater Jennifcr DePaulis said. "My husband took the boat out and they got on the boat and make sure adults have enough life jackets and they will ticket people without it, which is a good."

Meanwhile, more lake patrols have been scheduled during the holiday weekend to make sure accidents are down to a minimum and no one is boating under the influence. So far, about five people have been arrested on suspicion of boating while being intoxicated.

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