Michiganders are literally surrounded by lakes. Our great state is nestled between four of the five great lakes: Lake Huron, Lake Michigan, Lake Erie, and Lake Superior. There are also many amazing bodies of water within Michigan’s boundaries. If you’ve grown up or lived in Michigan for any period of time, lake activities are basically a part of your summer DNA. It’s probably the long, cold winters that send us gleefully bounding for water as soon as the weather warms up. Who can blame us?
There is a dark side, however, to this summer fun. In fact, the summer of 2016 is shaping up to be downright deadly. A sampling of recent boating accidents shows that no one is immune from the dangers of boating, and all types of watercraft require vigilance and attention with regard to safety procedures.
- On Wednesday, a man’s body was found in Hagerman Lake in the Upper Peninsula. It is believed he fell out of his small, motorized boat while fishing last weekend.
- Last week, three young men were out in a 16-foot motorboat on the Detroit River at around 11:30 p.m. when their boat hit a retaining wall. All three were thrown from the boat. One of them died.
- An Ann Arbor man was kayaking last week with his wife and two children on Lake Huron when their kayak began taking on water. The man, who was not wearing a life vest, drowned before rescue could occur. The two children, who were wearing life jackets, and their mother survived.
- In late June, a Grand Rapids man fell of a boat at around 1 a.m. The owner of the boat was unable to find him initially, but divers found him after he had been in the water for 35 minutes. The man later died at the hospital.
- Two days later, a man drowned after falling into the Muskegon River. He had been fishing with his daughter when a heavy rain ensued. As they made their way back to the dock, their boat struck a submerged log and both were ejected from the vehicle. The daughter survived.
These tragic instances are a small handful of the fatal boating accidents that have occurred this summer. All of us at The Lee Steinberg Law Firm are concerned about the uptick in accidents this summer, especially since boating accidents and fatalities have been decreasing over the past couple of years. We urge everyone to be cautious around water and always undertake key safety measures, such as:
- Checking weather before departure
- Create and follow a pre-departure checklist to ensure all safety precautions have been taken.
- Assign and fit life jackets for EVERYONE who will be on your boat. Make sure they wear them! Nearly 90% of all boating deaths could have been prevented if life jackets had been worn.
- Learn to swim if you are going to be around water.
- Take a boating safety class.
- Take advantage of the S. Coast Guard’s free vessel safety checks.
- Do not mix drinking and boating. Alcohol plays a huge role in boating accidents in the United States.
- Make sure someone not on the boat knows your plan and when you should be expected to return.
- Designate another individual on the boat as your assistant and make sure they understand how to operate the boat and use all safety precautions.
We all love the lake, but we want everyone to come home safely. Please do everything you can to protect yourself, your family, and the guests on your boat. If an accident does occur and you or someone you know is injured while boating or engaging in any other summer lake activity, please call us at 1-800-LEE-FREE for a free consultation. Our boating accident attorneys are here to fight for the rights of the injured in Michigan, and we have the experience it takes to win you the compensation you deserve.