A jet ski is seen along the Intracoastal Waterway. (Source: Lisa Gresci)
Boaters enjoy the day on the water. (Source: Lisa Gresci)
HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) – Those tasked with keeping boaters safe on the water say this year is off to a dangerous start.
Officers with the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources are still investigating several incidents from over the weekend. On Sunday, there were three serious accidents in a row, with people still in the hospital as of Wednesday.
“It seems people have just thrown caution to the wind this year,” DNR First Sgt. Kevin Pardue said. “We had one where somebody actually hit a boat and tried to flee the scene and Horry County assisted us with that. If it had not been for Horry County, the person probably would have gotten away when they got to the boat landing."
Pardue added they are still investigating an accident involving two jet skis that sent two people to the hospital. While DNR was on scene for that accident, another call came in.
“Someone leaving The Boathouse area, going down the waterway doing 35 to 40 mph and never saw the vessel being towed.They ran completely over the back of it,” Pardue said. "With the damage on the boat, you would expect to see a fatality or a very serious injury from that accident.”
Not only are these accidents serious, they can be hard to investigate.
“When you get in an accident on the water, everything is still floating, everything is still moving. There is not going to be any skid marks for us to investigate, there isn't going to be any debris, most of that is going to sink," Pardue said. "There is going to be other boats in the area; their wake is going to affect you now.”
Pardue said everyone on the water needs to have an emergency plan.
“If you get (into) a wreck on the water, and somebody gets thrown from the vessel and they are unconscious, what's your plan to get them out of the water?” he said.
Pardue reminded everyone that, unlike a vehicle, there are no regulations for anyone over the age of 16 to operate a boat or jet ski.
“If the other guy isn’t using common sense, you need to use twice the common sense," he said.
Another reminder from DNR is the Intracoastal Waterway is a narrow channel, and everyone on the water needs to respect that, especially when passing other boats or jet skis.
National Safe Boating Week 2017 runs from May 20 through May 26. Some other tips from DNR include:
Checking the weather before you leave
Let someone know where you are going
Gather all lifesaving devices such as life jackets and make sure they are the appropriate sizes for everyone on board
Check the fuel and battery charge
Make sure all lights are in good working condition on the boat
Carry a cell phone
Know the navigation and buoy system in your area and all rules of the water
Don’t operate the boat under the influence of alcohol or drugs
Those who are interested in taking a boating safety source can call (800) 277-4301. For a complete list of safe boating tips, click here.