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Caution Urged After Fatal Accident on Lake Gaston

Posted August 8, 2007

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— Authorities warned the public to follow water safety regulations on Lake Gaston after an 18-year-old boy was killed in an accident involving two personal watercraft Tuesday evening.

Witnesses said two teens were playing on personal watercraft in the Maple Point area for much of the day. One teen tried to splash the other with water, and their watercraft collided. One watercraft ran over the other, sending one boy into the water, authorities said.

Both teens were vacationing in the area from Connecticut, officials said. Authorities withheld their names.

The injured teen was taken to a dock at Eaton Ferry Bridge, where efforts to revive him were unsuccessful, authorities said. He suffered blunt trauma to the neck area, said Lt. John Reams of the state Wildlife Resources Commission.

The second teen was treated for minor injuries and released from a nearby hospital, authorities said.

The second teen will face misdemeanor charges for negligent operation of a watercraft, Reams said. By law, personal watercraft must run at idle speed within 100 feet of another vessel, and watercraft operators must not approach another vessel and swerve at the last moment.

Witnesses said that accidents involving personal watercraft are too common on Lake Gaston.

"There are lots of Jet Skis on Lake Gaston and lots of people that act like they don't know how to operate them," said David Jones, who witnessed Tuesday's rescue effort.

"We get complaints all the time, especially from fishermen that Jet Skis run up against them. They spray other boats," Jones said. "They're just not respectful."

Tuesday's accident was the second fatal one in two years in the same area of Lake Gaston.

In August 2005, a 16-year-old driver was killed and a 16-year-old passenger on one of the ski-type craft was critically injured when a second watercraft ran over the top of them as they slowed near Eaton Ferry Bridge. Authorities said the driver of the second watercraft hadn't undergone an approved boating safety course.

Reams said the state has enough regulations in place to prevent such accidents, but people need to follow the rules.

North Carolina law bans those under age 14 from operating a personal watercraft. Teens between 14 and 16 can operate watercraft if they've passed a boating safety course or are accompanied by an adult.

"The boating public just needs to wake up and comply to the laws that we have in place at this time," Reams said. "We would see less of this."

113 Comments

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  • LambeauSouth Aug 9, 2007

    Agreed!

    Good Day

  • Rocknhorse Aug 9, 2007

    I understand and I don't disagree! It's an awful shame that someone didn't warn them before someone got hurt. But ultimately, it was their behavior and it ended in tragedy. A talk by a witness or even an authority probably wouldn't have stopped them. It wasn't intentional. It was an accident. And sometimes it takes a close call (or worse) before some people learn that playing dangerous games can cause harm.

  • LambeauSouth Aug 9, 2007

    And my point is that we as human beings must do something, you may not have had a phone but I sure bet that someone did! And as far as the Wildlife officers, I fish, and they have no problem pulling us to make sure we are law abidding, its there job! Our tax pays there wages, My point is these are Kids and as kids need to be constantly reminded before a tragedy happens.

  • Rocknhorse Aug 9, 2007

    mhart-I responded early in this comment section about WHY people may not have tried to stop these kids. I am a regular LKG visitor and I've seen some people cutting up like that. When I'm on the water, I do not carry a phone or radio transmitter with me. By the time I get back to the house to make the call, it would be too late. They'd be long gone. I've tried to approach some of these people who are playing out of control, but they speed off. So WHAT exactly can the bystander do?

    My comment in comparing the two incidents was in direct response to the statement that the fault does not lie with the kids who were playing around, but rather with the authorities for not stopping them. When people behave irresponsibly and it results in an accident, no matter how tragic, it's still THEIR responsibility and fault - not the police or authorities or anyone else. That is the point I was trying to make.

    I feel very sorry for the family and friends of this young man. It is a tragedy.

  • LambeauSouth Aug 9, 2007

    Rocknhorse, I'm confused by you logic.
    Two totally different acts. Fact =several bystanders claimed they were doing this for the whole day, The boy in Jersey acted
    fairly quickly. Problem is that so many blame on these boards but yet if they saw this happining in real time would do nothing.

  • hkypky Aug 9, 2007

    I'm just trying to get a visual on the new "signage", FTLOG, they need to put up:

    Caution: Don't be Stupid

  • bicigoa Aug 9, 2007

    I can't stand when people fight on these boards. Address the issue and move on. This is a very hard time for friends and family of these victims. My heart goes out to both families. The boy who survived is going to have to live with what happened for the rest of his life. May the families have the thoughts and prayers from all who heard this story.

  • likemenow Aug 9, 2007

    Blame the the two kids who decided to play chicken/splash water while riding vehicles that weigh (?) 700 lbs with no brakes.

  • Rocknhorse Aug 9, 2007

    "I do not blame the Parent or the Kids, I blame the fact that they were doing this all day and there was no report of them being stopped by any Wildlife officers," So by that statement, the same can be said of the teen in NJ - It's neither his nor his parents' fault b/c the police didn't stop him BEFORE he acted?!?

    68-polara - Loved your comment about pontoon boats.

    Grandpeople - your case is about a drunk boat driver, yet you persecute jetski operators.

    I've been going to LKG for almost 25-30 yrs. My husband's family since the 1960s. I see the jetski ops and yes some are foolish. Others are not. Obviously there will be no convincing some that there ARE responsible ops who are considerate as well. So be it. The accusations you toss can be said about vehicle ops, boat ops, horse riders, pilots, etc... Some people are repsonsible and others are idiots. Hopefully the idiots can learn b/4 costing someone their life.

  • LambeauSouth Aug 9, 2007

    I do not blame the Parent or the Kids, I blame the fact that they were doing this all day and there was no report of them being stopped by any Wildlife officers, I do not frequent Gaston but I am sure that there are plenty of them around looking at boaters, where were they?

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