Two 16-year-old boys from the Crowley area survived a boating accident Sunday afternoon in Rapides Parish in large part because they took proper safety precautions, according to the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries.
The juveniles had been fishing when they struck a tree on the north end of Indian Creek Reservoir and were ejected from their 16-foot aluminum boat with minor to moderate cuts and bruises, according to a press release.
Because the operator of the boat, who had taken a safe boating class, was wearing the engine cut-off lanyard, the vessel stopped after they were ejected.
Both boys were wearing personal flotation devices, and were able to get back to the boat, where a fisherman found them shortly after the incident and transported them to a boat launch. From there, the passenger was transported to Rapides General Hospital with a leg injury, the release states.
“These boys took all the right precautions to increase their chance of survival,” Col. Joey Broussard, head of the enforcement division, said. “We believe that this could have been a fatal outcome had they not been wearing PFDs that kept them afloat in case they wouldn’t have been able to swim from their injuries. And the cut-off switch lanyard prevented the boat from turning into a weapon and hitting one or both of the boys.”
PFDs are required for anyone 16 years of age and younger when in a vessel less than 26-feet long while underway. An engine cut-off switch is required for anyone operating a vessel with a hand tiller outboard motor that is less than 26-feet long and in excess of 10 horsepower that is designed to have a cut-off switch.
“While this vessel was not required to have the cut-off switch since it was not a hand tiller engine, we always teach people to use it if the boat has one,” Lt. Col. Sammy Martin, the state’s boating law administrator, said. “We are hoping that other people will see how these boys took the extra couple of safety precautions by wearing their PFDs and cut-off switch that may have been the difference between life and death.”
The free boating education safety class is mandatory for anyone born after Jan. 1, 1984 operating a vessel in excess of 10 horsepower. The classes are available statewide and year-round and the schedule can be found by clicking here.