Minnesota boating deaths emphasize need for increased safety measures

Water safety issues are of heightened concern this spring in Minnesota as high water levels create risks of injuries and deaths.

Everyone in Minnesota looks forward to summer and all the outdoor activities the warm weather brings, especially after long winter and cool spring like we just experienced. For many, summer means spending time on the lakes fishing, jet skiing, swimming and general boating. Unfortunately, water sports have inherent dangers, especially for the next few weeks.

Flooded lakes, rivers and streams are common in early spring but, this year, late spring rains are creating dangers normally associated with a fast winter thaw. High water levels from the rain, combined with this warmer weather, are deadly for those who do not take the necessary precautions. According to statistics from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR), six people have drowned and another suffered fatal injuries in a boating accident so far this year.

Three boaters in central Minnesota nearly lost their lives last week when their boat became trapped against fallen trees and was then swamped by a rushing river. One of the boaters was swept 1,000 feet downstream and required medical treatment at an area hospital. None of them wore life jackets that day.

Boating safety

The DNR issued a stern warning earlier this month regarding high levels in waters across the state. Locks on the Mississippi River were closed to recreational vehicles in Minneapolis recently. Lake Minnetonka was essentially closed to recreational boat use due to “no wake” restrictions and Hennepin County Water Patrol was out in force, not to cite boaters but to provide safety education. Some of the most common boating safety tips include the following:

  • Use life preservers: Life jackets are not just for children or those who do not know how to swim. Many adult lives are saved each year by properly using life jackets while enjoying the lakes and rivers.
  • Watch out for debris: When lake levels rise, so does the amount of debris, much of which floats just under or at the surface of the water. Keep a sharp outlook for submerged objects – and other people and animals – when boating, especially in unfamiliar waters.
  • Check for contamination: The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency has closed a number of Twin City area lakes to swimmers due to pollution and contamination. High levels of runoff overwhelm local sanitation systems, discharging sewage into waterways.
  • Drinking and boating: Across the state, law enforcement agents crack down on boaters who are under the influence of alcohol and drugs, especially on Independence Day weekend. According to the DNR, boating under the influence is one of the leading factors in boating injuries and deaths in Minnesota.

Help for victims of boating accidents

Unfortunately, taking all the necessary precautions yourself cannot prevent negligent boaters from causing accidents. If you or someone you love suffers an injury due to the negligence of another, consult an experienced personal injury attorney. A Minnesota lawyer experienced with boating injury cases can help.

Keywords: wrongful death, personal injury, boating accident