SEATTLE — Coast Guard and local agency personnel worked to educate boaters and enforce regulations on Lake Washington, Seattle, during Seafair, Wednesday to Sunday.
Despite efforts of agencies involved, two accidents took place on Sunday that serve as a poignant reminder to the public to remain vigilant and observe safe boating practices.
Early afternoon on Sunday, a 19-year-old woman was struck in the leg by a boat propeller while swimming. She was taken to a local area hospital and an investigation is ongoing. Later that evening, a 32-year-old male drowned after falling from an 18-foot pleasure craft. His body was recovered an hour later by a Seattle Harbor dive team. Neither individual was reported as wearing a life jacket.
“Our ultimate goal is to have zero injuries and fatalities and Seafair, which is a celebration of our boating community and culture, should not include tragedy,” said Lt. Cmdr. Patrick Gallagher, chief of enforcement, Coast Guard Sector Puget Sound. “What makes the water exciting is also what makes it dangerous. Irresponsible behavior such as boating under the influence of drugs or alcohol inserts a huge amount of needless risk to those enjoying the water.”
Over Seafair weekend, Coast Guard crews conducted more than 1,000 spot safety checks. Spot checks are done to ensure boaters have the required safety equipment on board. Some of these items include the proper number and sizes of life jackets for the amount of people on board, fire extinguishers and sound producing devices.
Additionally, Coast Guard boarding teams conducted more than 46 vessel boardings, with 10 of those resulting in trip terminations for various violations.
Boaters are reminded that children 12 years of age and younger are required by federal and state law to wear life jackets while on the water. Life jackets must be accessible for everyone aboard the vessel and adults are encouraged to wear their lifejackets at all times while on the water.
There were also three search-and-rescue cases and Coast Guard and local law enforcement personnel processed 16 boaters for suspicion of boating under the influence.
Boating under the influence of drugs or alcohol is against the law. Boaters found to be operating vessels while under the influence may be subject to arrest and, if no capable operator is aboard the vessel, the operator and passengers will be removed and the vessel will be impounded. For more boating safety information please visit:www.uscgboating.org