Memorial Day is Monday and that means the unofficial beginning of summer. So, starting this weekend, folks will be flocking to the state’s many lakes.
However, this boating season comes on the heels of a tragic drowning. A Kansas man died Sunday afternoon after a boat carrying him and two other people capsized on Tuttle Creek Lake near Manhattan. The Associated Press reported that two men and a woman were in a fishing boat when it capsized near the mouth of Tuttle Cove. A nearby fisherman pulled a man and the woman out of the water, but couldn’t get to the third.
The body of 25-year-old Junction City resident Matthew Mann was recovered from the lake at 10:25 p.m. after he was located with the help of sonar. The other two were treated at an area hospital and released.
None of the people on the boat was wearing a life jacket.
In the last five years prior to 2014, there have been 28 boating-related fatalities in Kansas, the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism notes. Twenty-six of the fatalities were from drowning. Only four of those victims were wearing life jackets, and other medical conditions contributed to their deaths. Two other victims were wearing life jackets but suffered traumatic injuries. Ten of the 28 victims were fishing, four were hunting and four were kayaking. Twenty-seven were males, of whom 24 were 18 years of age and older.
National Safe Boating Week is May 18-24, and the KDWPT, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment and Safe Kids Kansas are joining forces to strongly encourage outdoor enthusiasts to be prepared and follow simple safety tips for a safe and enjoyable boating experience.
The first tip – wear a life jacket. Others include: Designate a “Water Watcher,” a responsible adult to keep watch when anyone is in the water; learn CPR; learn how to safely help someone in distress; adhere to a “no drinking” policy while boating; allow only those who have completed boater education to operate the vessel – in Kansas, anyone age 12-20 must have completed an approved boater education course before operating a vessel without the direct supervision of an adult; know the rules of the water; educate yourself and your children about swimming safely; keep warm; and make sure your boat has all the required equipment and is thoroughly tested before hitting the water.
This time of year is full of opportunities to enjoy the great outdoors. Be safe and don’t let them end in tragedy.