Fall Boating Safety

By: Stephen McLamb
By: Stephen McLamb

Seymour, Sevier County (WVLT) - A Sevier County man awaits a court date after a boating trip turns deadly.

61-year-old Eugene Wise died after being thrown overboard in the French Broad River Thursday.

His boating partner, Ralph Huskey was rescued, but he has been charged with boating under the influence.

WVLT Volunteer TV's Stephen McLamb takes a look at how this accident may have been prevented and what you need to know if you plan on going boating this time of year.

Many recreational boaters are putting up their boats up for the winter, but not everyone does.

TWRA officials say boaters need to take extra precautions when going boating as the weather gets cooler.

"People think boating accidents only happen in the summertime with boaters. As many happen with hunters and fishermen and some boating in the wintertime," says TWRA Boating Safety Coordinator Ron Overbay.

Thursday's boating accident in Sevier county put two people in the French Broad River and one died. TWRA officials say boating in the recreational off season can be especially dangerous as the conditions for hypothermia become greater.

"When the waters cold and air temperatures cold, that's when you have a major factor but you can still have some factor in it the older you are. You know, you just don't take the cold the way you used to," Overbay.

Overbay says boaters should always wear life preservers and that can only be emphasized in the fall and winter. He says in his many years of service he's only seen one person die with a life preserver on.

"In 1972 or 73 where there was an explosion and they had a life jacket on and the explosion killed them," Overbay says.

Paying attention is also important. Overbay says you need to keep from being distracted and like the rules of the road, you need to follow the rules of the water.

"I know a lot of times on the big large bodies of water it's hard to bear to the right. Think in your mind try to bear to the right like you do with an automobile." Overbay says they hope new requirements making people born past 1989 to take a boater safety course will help for the future. But Thursday's boaters were in their sixties and are not required to take such a course.

"It would be fine if everybody could take some type of boating education or just read a book about boating education," Overbay says.

Needless to say, Overbay says drinking and boating is a definite no-no.

He says it's not illegal to drink on the water as long as you are not the driver.

He says if you decide there will be drinking you need to make sure you have a designated driver.


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