Our boating accident lawyers here at Lipcon, Margulies & Winkleman, P.A. have been warning on the dangers of the open waters during this summer’s boating season, but even as the season comes to an end, accidents are still taking place, leaving victims with serious and disabling injuries.
It’s important to always abide by maritime safety laws while out on a boat or personal water craft, because even the most experienced boater can get hurt due to the negligent actions of another. Speeding, distraction and intoxication are among the most common factors that contribute to accidents on the open waters, even if no other vessels are involved. No matter what your age or how much experience you have operating a water craft, it’s imperative to always act prudently and to wear a life jacket at all times. When a boat crash occurs, victims may be thrown into the waters and may be unable to stay afloat or swim due to injuries. A life jacket can keep you safe, even if you become unconscious. Unfortunately, not all states require boaters to wear floatation devices. Sometimes, it’s up to each individual to protect themselves and their loved ones from harm.
Though an accident involving a motorboat, sailboat, Jet Ski, or other vessel can happen to anyone, our attorneys have noticed an increase in the number of teens being injured or killed in boating-related accidents. Teens have a tendency to be more reckless when it comes to operating a vessel and are more prone to horsing around and getting distracted.
This week, families and friends are paying tribute to four teens who were killed last summer in a boat accident in Iowa. Surviving loved ones and community members in Burlington, Iowa formed an organization called River Rat Safety Awareness to honor the four victims, whose lives were sadly cut too short, and raised enough money to erect a new lighthouse memorial for the victims.
The accident happened last May in Otter Island, a popular spot for teens in Burlington which lies by the Mississippi River. Along with a nearby spot known as “Jon Boat Beach,” teens frequent the areas day and night, but it’s not always fun and games.
Authorities report the islands are known for their discrete location, which allows teens to engage in some reckless behaviors, especially drinking alcohol.
As our boating accident lawyers well know, alcohol and the open waters do not mesh well together. Being intoxicated on dry land can lead to serious injuries, but consuming alcohol out in the water amplifies the effects. Between the rocking waves, winds and warm weather, even the most tolerant of individuals can become quickly intoxicated and find themselves in a very dangerous situation, like the four teens.
The group had been riding in a Jon Boat along with seven others when it collided with another vessel. The four teens were killed, while others were injured.
Officers who investigated the accident explained the area is infamous for parties that feature alcohol, and teens often become intoxicated then head out on their boats to return home. That’s when disaster can strike.
Though the area of the river where the boat crash occurred seems to be calm from plain site, authorities say appearances can be deceiving, as the water behaves in unpredictable ways.
None of the victims were wearing life jackets, which could have also contributed to their deaths.
Now, the new lighthouse, which will go up this winter, will serve not only as a memorial of the lives that were lost, but also as a reminder of the danger that can occur to anyone on the water and the importance of abiding by proper maritime safety while on the river. The lighthouse will be placed somewhere along the river for boaters to see.