Sunday, June 19, 2005

Put the Life Jacket on With Your Kids Dads.....

Thu, May 26, 2005 Wife of man who drowned urges safety for boaters By Holly Fesperman Salisbury Post SOUTHMONT — Pat Zanolli returned Wednesday to the lake where her husband drowned last year to warn others about the potential dangers of not wearing a life jacket. "I think it's important that people realize how fast something can happen," Zanolli told a Post reporter before a press conference about the coming summer season. Alcoa-Yadkin and the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission invited Zanolli to Southmont boat access site to speak as officials unveiled a new water safety campaign. The campaign coincides with National Safe Boating Week (May 21-27). Zanolli said she didn't hesitate when officials approached her to help with the campaign. Zanolli hopes the campaign will prompt more people to wear life jackets. Zanolli knows all too well what can happen when people don't. Her husband, Anthony Zanolli, wasn't wearing a life jacket the day he went fishing with daughter Adriene, then 12 years old, and her friend Jeremy Desjardins. According to Pat Zanolli, it was a clear day when the three started out, but later that evening the wind picked up and sent waves crashing into her husband's 12-foot johnboat. The boat capsized, throwing its three passengers overboard. Anthony Zanolli told the teens, who were both wearing life jackets, to swim to shore without him. After 1 1/2 hours, the teens made it home and called authorities. Authorities in Rowan and Davidson counties organized a massive rescue effort to find Anthony Zanolli unharmed, but after about a day of searching, rescuers began dragging the lake for his body. Twelve days after the search began, authorities found Zanolli's body less than a mile from where his boat overturned. This year's water safety campaign includes newspaper and radio advertisements that tell Anthony Zanolli's story. The print advertisement features a brief description of the accident, a picture of Zanolli fishing and the statement: "A life jacket would have saved his life." Pat Zanolli said her husband would have undoubtedly survived had he been wearing a life jacket. "I don't want anyone to go through what our family has been through in the last year," Zanolli said. If this campaign could save one person, it would be a great success, she said. Alcoa-Yadkin and the Wildlife Commission also unveiled another newspaper and radio advertisement aimed at parents. The print version shows a child having fun in the water with a snorkel and gives parents tips on keeping children safe at the lakes. The groups will print this advertisement in Spanish and English. Several Spanish-speaking residents have drowned on High Rock Lake in recent years. Besides advertisements, Alcoa and state officials plan to distribute flyers about water safety in local convenience stories and lake businesses. Dick Fisher, boat safety expert from the N.C. Coast Guard Auxiliary, was also on hand to talk about safety tips for upcoming summer season. According to Fisher, North Carolina has 350,000 registered boats. "That means there's a lot of educating to do," he said. Fisher put the importance of wearing life jackets in perspective: Eighty percent of last year's drowning victims were not wearing life jackets. Fisher also told the gathered reporters of a new state law that requires all children younger than 13 to wear life jackets at all times. Twenty-seven people younger than 12 drowned last year, according to Fisher. Wildlife Commission Officer Jeremy Harrill spoke about the dangers of using alcohol and boating. A third of all boating accidents are a result of alcohol, according to Harrill. The legal blood-alcohol level on N.C. highways, 0.08%, is the same for the state's waterways. For more information about boating safety, visit the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission Web site, Only a few weeks ago, Pat Zanolli had a monument erected in her husband's memory near the lake shore. It says in part: "Please Remember to Use Water Safety." Ron and Betsy Desjardins, parents of her daughter's friend, Jeremy, who was in the accident also, helped Zanolli build the monument and plant the corkscrew willow that stands beside it. The monument extends the Zanolli family's thanks to all who searched for their loved one. The monument also bears the words that Adriene Zanolli keeps in her bedroom: "Our Hero We love you more than you knew. I wish you could be here to watch me grow up and do the things fathers do. We know you are in a better place, and we will see you again in Heaven. We Love you." Contact Holly Fesperman at 704-797-4273 or

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