Solemn start to national safe boating week

SEATTLE – National Safe Boating Week began Saturday with a solemn start in the Northwest.

One man died after his boat capsized in the current of the Columbia River, two vessels sank off shore and two vessels reported taking on water during the start of the annual National Safe Boating Week. This week highlights boating safety in the hope that education will reduce boating fatalities. This year’s theme, “Be a survivor! Wear it!” highlights the use of life jackets and the role they play in saving lives.

The death on the Columbia River at Astoria, Ore., Saturday highlights the need for boaters to wear their life jackets. In that case none of the three occupants of the vessel were wearing life jackets.

“Sudden immersion in cold water can render a person helpless in a matter of seconds,” said Dan Shipman, Recreational Boating Safety Specialist for the 13th Coast Guard District. “A life jacket gives the person their best chance of surviving such an accident by ensuring they remain floating when they become incapacitated by the cold. Incapacitation can occur within seconds of hitting the water. We are very fortunate that all were not lost in the capsizing this weekend since none of the three were wearing life jackets.”

Quick notification by a bystander who observed the accident and a quick response by the Coast Guard and Clatsop County Sheriff’s officers was a key factor in the recovery of the two survivors.

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