Opinion

Tracyton accident is gory reminder of boating dangers

Last weekend’s boating accident on Dyes Inlet is a scary reality of just how dangerous boating can be if the proper precautions aren’t taken.

A 45-year-old Seattle woman remains at Harborview Medical Center after her right leg was cut off by her boat’s propeller near the Tracyton boat launch. Her life changed forever in just a few short minutes. But it can happen to anyone and all it takes is one little mistake.

The couple wasn’t under the influence of alcohol and they weren’t driving erratically, they were simply loading items onto their boat. But why the boat wasn’t turned off while the woman was climbing aboard the back steps isn’t exactly clear. Even if the boat isn’t moving, it’s clear from this tragic accident that the boat’s propeller is still just as dangerous when it’s idling. Hopefully other boaters will learn from this tragedy and think twice about this serious danger the next time they are on the water.

These types of horrific boating injuries happen all too often. In an average year in the United States, approximately 200 to 250 non-fatal injuries are reported as a result of a person being struck by the propeller and/or propulsion unit of their boat, according to the United States Coast Guard.

Unfortunately, similar boating accidents are not uncommon. Last summer, tragedy struck a newlywed couple, Ken and Jeanette (McClister) Bayne, who were on their Jet Ski in Port Orchard Bay near Brownsville when they crossed the path of a friend’s 16-foot Sea Ray outboard boat. They both died as a result of the accident.

If you are a boater, take the time to get your Washington State Boater Education Card. This year, those ages 12 to 20 who operate a boat with 15 horsepower or more are required to have the card. Each year will include another age group. Over the next seven years, people 50 and younger will be required to take a boater education course. Even if your age group for the requirement is still a few years away, get the card now. It never expires. To learn more, visit www.parks.wa.gov/boating/boatered.asp.

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