Officials urge boating safety |

Officials urge boating safety

Greg Schreier
With the arrival of summer, Officials are stressing boating safety measures, such as wearing personal floatation devices. (Mark Fox/The Aspen Times)

Officials are emphasizing boating safety after ticketing a 40-year-old Basalt man for reckless endangerment following a boating incident on Ruedi Reservoir.June 18, the children, all younger than 11, were riding on an inflatable device behind a family boat.On June 18, witnesses said the man drove between another boat and a flotation device with three children on it, hitting the rope connecting the two and causing the kids to flip over into the water, according to the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office. The children were rescued, and one suffered a minor wrist injury.Witnesses also said the man stopped his boat long enough to remove the entangled rope he had hit. He then continued to the boat ramp, loaded his boat onto its trailer and left the reservoir. The family and others at the scene were able to get the license numbers of the boat and the trailer. Eagle County sheriff’s deputies contacted him shortly after in Basalt, where he was interviewed and ticketed.

Tom Grady of the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office said there aren’t many incidents like that at the reservoir. He also said flipped boats, rafts and kayaks are common on the Roaring Fork River but are typically easy to handle.Keith Kahler, the boating safety director for Colorado State Parks, said most fatal boating accidents are caused by people falling overboard or capsizing – not collisions. He also said Colorado’s generally cold lake and river waters cause problems when boaters don’t wear flotation devices. People lose muscle control in cold water, and that can cause them to sink and drown, he said.Boaters jumping over wakes also causes problems, including collisions.”When you jump and leave the water, you have no control,” Kahler said.Kayakers and canoeists in the Roaring Fork Valley should also follow the same guidelines as lake boaters, Kahler said. Too often, people looking for a thrill will tackle waters beyond their skill level. Colorado’s rivers typically have deceptively strong currents.

“They really don’t have the skills or the knowledge to be using a vessel,” Kahler said. “With our flows, they just don’t recognize that’s a strong body of water.”Kahler said 80 percent of people who die in boating accidents and weren’t wearing flotation devices would have survived if they had been wearing one.The U.S. Coast Guard recommends that anyone take a boating safety course before going out on the water.The Coast Guard also offers general safety tips for boaters. It’s good to carry sunscreen and other gear to protect from ultraviolet rays, an AM radio to keep track of the weather, a personal flotation device, distress signals and fire extinguisher.Additionally, there are tips for staying safe if you’re driving a boat, water skiing or riding on a flotation device behind a boat: If water skiing, make sure the water is at least five or six feet deep and the surrounding area is open. When boating, keep a distance of at least 150 feet from other boats.

Don’t ski or boat in choppy water or rain.Make sure there is an observer when water skiing, as the driver can’t drive carefully and watch a skier at the same time.Always use a personal flotation device, and never ski or drive a boat under the influence of alcohol or drugs. All accidents that cause death or an injury requiring more than basic first aid, cause more than $500 of damage, or cause a person to go missing must be reported to the authorities.Kids 13 and younger are never allowed to operate a motorcraft, even with adult supervision. Kids 14 and 15 must have completed a certified boat safety course, but anyone older than 16 can drive a boat without certification. However, Kahler still encourages everyone to take a safety course.For more information on boating safety and regulations in Colorado, visit

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