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Life jackets required after Nevada boat deaths

Two fatal boat accidents in April prompted rule
April 20, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
Game wardens plan to step up enforcement of a state law requiring boaters to carry life jackets after two fatal boating accidents this month in northern Nevada. On April 5, a 52-year-old Reno man presumably drowned after he fell off a 12-foot boat while fishing at Rye Patch Reservoir near Lovelock, 100 miles northeast of Reno.

On April 13, a 24-year-old employee of the Petan Ranch in Elko County presumably drowned after a canoe capsized on a privately-owned reservoir at the ranch.

Both victims were not wearing a life jacket, officials said, and there were no life jackets in the latter boat. The victims have not been recovered, but search efforts continue.

Game wardens at the Nevada Department of Wildlife said state law requires a life jacket for every person aboard a boat, and children under 13 must wear a life jacket.

They also warned boaters not to underestimate cold water, saying it can kill an excellent swimmer in just a few minutes. The water temperature for both accidents was below 50 degrees.

"It is so terribly sad when lives are lost in these situations," said Lt. Jerry Smith, the supervising game warden in Elko. "A life jacket won't work if you don't wear it, and you have no chance at all if it's not even in the boat."

Game wardens plan to step up enforcement of the law over the next couple of months, he added.

"We will issue citations and terminate boating trips for boats without sufficient life jackets," Smith said. "It's the state law, and we have already lost two people this year."

Officials urge boaters to dress for water conditions, not the air temperature. Even when the temperature is warm outside, water temperatures are still very cold, they said.

 

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