From The Baltimore Sun
Memorial Day marked the unofficial beginning of boating season in Maryland and elsewhere. Every weekend for the next few months, thousands of people will be out on the water across the state whether it’s Deep Creek Lake, the Chesapeake Bay or the Atlantic Ocean off Ocean City and Assateague Island. But the summer boating season is also certain to suffer its customary share of accidents and fatalities — most if not all of which are preventable.
This loss of life associated with recreational boating is surely among the most frustrating statistics in public health because it’s so avoidable. In many ways, it mirrors the daily carnage on the nation’s roads — with irresponsible behavior, including the boating equivalent of drunk driving and speeding, among the chief culprits. But arguably it’s worse. Americans take to the roads and expose themselves to the inherent risk out of necessity. Boating is a luxury. There’s absolutely no reason why people need to be placed in harm’s way if everyone behaves prudently.
Take, for example, life jackets, more properly known as personal flotation devices. Under Maryland law, children under the age of 13 must wear them while any vessel is underway, and that includes not just motorboats but sailboats, canoes, kayaks and rowboats. Yet in cases of drowning, what percentage of victims were found not to be wearing one? According to the U.S. Coast Guard, that would be 84.5 percent. That’s a problem, particularly given that about three-quarters of boating accident fatalities involve drowning.
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Operator reportedly runs vessel aground at dam
Michael A. SawyersCumberland Times-News
MCHENRY — A 20-year-old Fallston man was tracked down and charged Wednesday morning after a wrecked and abandoned motorboat was discovered aground on the dam at Deep Creek Lake.
“Employees of the Brookfield Power Company were making their morning rounds when they saw the boat and called,” said Maryland Natural Resources Police Cpl. Walt May.
Using the registration number on the 20-foot Bayliner, police identified Michael Shawn Shannon as the owner. “Officer (A.) Felsecker found Shannon at his parents’ home (near the lake) about 9:30 a.m. He was charged with operating while under the influence of alcohol, negligent operation and underage possession of alcohol,” May said. Officer Glenn Broadwater worked the accident scene.
May said Shannon, who was accompanied in the boat by a friend, apparently operated the boat at full throttle in a very dark area of the lake. There were no injuries.
“We believe the accident took place about midnight,” May said. The boat was fully out of the water and had significant damage including a cracked fuel tank.
May estimated the boat was traveling 20 to 40 mph.
Director John Frank said he was the first responder at 8 a.m. after an alert that originated with the Maryland Department of the Environment downstate was transfered to the Maryland Emergency Management Agency and then to Garrett County.
“Some fuel spilled into the lake, but was dissipated by wind and wave action. Floating absorbant booms were placed as well.”
Hazardous incident response teams from Garrett and Allegany counties arrived and drained the remaining 20 gallons of fuel from the boat’s tank.
Contact Michael A. Sawyers at email@example.com.