Monday, May 09, 2005

Should The Law Require Children to Always Wear Life Jackets?

Another sad story....Should the law always require children to wear life jackets? May 8, 2005 Father, son drown in White River Pair from Lawrence apparently fell from pontoon boat in Hamilton County. By Stu Hirsch NOBLESVILLE, Ind. -- A father and his young son drowned Sunday afternoon when they apparently fell from a small pontoon boat while fishing on the White River in Hamilton County. The 28-year-old father and his 6-year-old son were from Lawrence, said Hamilton County Sheriff Doug Carter. "We take so much for granted. When things like this occur, it causes us to reflect and appreciate the things that we have. I can't imagine what this family is going to have to endure," Carter said. He declined to identify the victims, pending the notification of their family. The accident occurred near the Teter Family Retreat at 10980 East 221st Street, about five miles northeast of Noblesville. The boat apparently was put in the water at the Riverbend Campground. The accident was reported about 3:50 p.m. Sunday. A state conservation officer estimated the depth of the river at the drowning scene at six to seven feet and said the water temperature was 60 to 61 degrees, typical for spring. The current was no more than 2 mph in a calm, wide area of the river. Neither the man nor the boy were wearing life jackets at the time of the accident, although a life jacket and buoyant seat cushion were in the boat and appeared to be in good working order, said state conservation officer John Gano. He said no state law requires the wearing of floatation devices, although they are required to be on board a boat on water. The boat was about eight feet long. A deck was attached to the two pontoons, and seats were bolted to the deck. It was equipped with a small motor. The boat, according to Gano, was made from a plastic composite material. While Gano said the boat appeared to be in good working order, he added that such vessels have a reputation of being "tippy" because of their light weight. Authorities were unsure late Sunday when the pair arrived at Riverbend to begin their day of boating and fishing on the river. Several other boaters told investigators they saw the pair earlier in the day. However, no one actually saw either victim fall into the river. Gano speculated that the child might have fallen into the river first, followed by the father. He said authorities might never know the actual sequence of events, or the reasons both fell in. When the boat was recovered, the motor was set in a tight turn, leading Gano to believe the father may have been trying to recover his son. Carter said the initial report to the sheriff's department was for a small child who was discovered floating face down in the water. Several minutes later, another report came in that a man had been discovered. A group of fishermen recovered the boy's body and rushed him to Riverbend, where rescue workers tried to resuscitate him. A group on a pontoon boat out for an afternoon cruise spotted the man under the water, but a man and a woman on jet skis actually recovered his body and took him to shore, Gano said.

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