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Jet Ski Accident Claims A Young Man's Life

Channel 7 WJHG reports that FWC has confirmed that a 17-year-old male was killed this past Wednesday after his jet ski collided with a 20-foot boat in Grand Lagoon. The young man was heading east in Grand Lagoon, while the 20 foot Sea Fox , carrying five people on board from Alabama was heading towards the campground area at St. Andrews State Park. The incident occurred just before 6 p.m. Wednesday. Officials say the 17 year old worked for Sunshine Water Sports PC and was leading a jet ski tour during when the accident happened. After the accident, he was taken to a local hospital and later pronounced dead. As of now, officials are still investigating how and why the malecollided with the boat.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of this young man.

This accident got me thinking about boating safety and how the rules of the water work when a jet ski comes into contact with a boat.

FWC posts what regulations are in place for personal watercraft such as jet skis:

· Each person operating, riding on, or being towed behind a personal watercraft must wear an approved non-inflatable Type I, II, III or V personal flotation     device (PFD). Inflatable PFDs are prohibited for personal watercraft use.

· The operator of a personal watercraft must attach the engine cutoff switch lanyard (if equipped by the manufacturer) to his/her person, clothing or PFD.

· Personal watercraft may not be operated from 1/2 hour after sunset to 1/2 hour before sunrise, even if navigation lights are used. Remember, both federal and state law requires the use of navigation lights from sunset to sunrise.

· Maneuvering a personal watercraft by weaving through congested vessel traffic, jumping the wake of another vessel unreasonably close or when visibility around the vessel is obstructed, or swerving at the last possible moment to avoid collision is classified as reckless operation of a vessel (a first-degree misdemeanor).

· A person must be at least 14 years of age to operate a personal watercraft in Florida.

· A person must be at least 18 years of age to rent a personal watercraft in Florida.

· It is unlawful for a person to knowingly allow a person under 14 years of age to operate a personal watercraft (a second-degree misdemeanor).

· Anyone born on or after January 1, 1988 is required to either have successfully completed a National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA) approved boating education course or have passed a course equivalency or temporary certificate examination and have in their possession a boating education ID card and a photo identification card before operating a vessel with a motor of 10 HP or more in Florida. Identification cards for persons completing the course or the equivalency exam are good for a lifetime. Temporary Certificate exams are made available to the public through contractors. The temporary certificate is valid for 12 months from the issue date.

FWC also posts regulations that apply to interference with navigation :

  • Except in the event of an emergency, it is unlawful for any person to anchor or operate a vessel in a manner that will unreasonably interfere with the navigation of other vessels


Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission publish statistics which reflect that the majority of accidents involving personal watercraft, especially jet skis, are due to collisions with other vessels. Directing a jet ski through congested vessel traffic, jumping the wake of another vessel unreasonably close or when visibility around the vessel is hindered is classified as the reckless operation of a vessel.

Source: http://myfwc.com/boating/regulations/#nogo

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