The summer season brings many Maryland residents out to the waterways. From the coastline to our state’s beautiful lakes, there is no shortage of water activities available to those who seek them. A favorite pastime of many Maryland residents is to break out the boats and spend a day relaxing at sea level. Relaxation isn’t the only reason folks take to the water. Recreational boats are often used for charitable purposes. This year Kent Island, Maryland hosted the 25th annual Thunder of the Narrows. The event was described as “Up-close and personal racing action that is fun for the whole family.” Spectators were able to watch the boats race from the water while relaxing on their personal boats. The money raised was to be donated to the Boy Scouts of America.
Unfortunately, this year’s event was not without incident. The President of the Kent Narrows Racing Association said afterwards, “I’m just very concerned about the causes and what we can do to prevent it in the future. I think we have a beautiful sport and it’s good for people. We help children. We do a lot of good and unfortunately, sometimes something terrible happens.”
The incident is currently under investigation by the United States Coast Guard. At approximately 5:30 in the evening a racing boat lost control and began to hydroplane. The boat hit spectator boats and the onlookers in and around the boats. Sponsors of the event began to pull the injured from the water. One individual was taken by ambulance to the emergency room while two others were air-lifted from the scene. One witness described the event as “devastating” saying that about twenty other people were on boats near him when the boat lost control. The witness, Jerry Maisel, also explained that the motor on his boat was the only thing that stopped the out-of-control race boat. Although the Coast Guard has not concluded its investigation, witnesses believe that the boat lost a rudder, explaining that the driver was neither young nor inexperienced. A seven-year-old girl was directly in the path of the boat as it crashed into the onlookers. She was pronounced dead at the scene.
Boating Accident Statistics
Although this set of circumstances does not happen often, it is indisputable that boating injuries occur regularly. The Coast Guard reports that in 2014 there were 937 reported incidents in which a boat collided with another recreational vehicle. In addition, there were 452 collisions between a boat and a stationary object. The leading causes of injuries on or around boats are operator inattention (563 reported incidents), improper lookout (431 reported incidents), and operator inexperience (391 reported incidents). July is statistically the month during which the highest number of fatalities occur while boating. Last year May was the second highest. In total there were 548 boating fatalities during 2014.
Frederick County, Maryland
Recently, Frederick County emergency crews found themselves much busier than usual. Water conditions quickly became dangerous on Saturday and remained so throughout Sunday. The rainy weather created conditions that were not friendly to those attempting to navigate the waterways. Frederick County emergency crews responded to three separate distress calls on Sunday after rapid river flooding left many in need of rescue. On Monday, the Chief Medical Examiner’s Officer in Baltimore verified that a 62-year-old man named Stephen Hembree drowned during the flooding. Hembree was on a pontoon boat along with others when the boat was caught by a current and thrown onto the Lake Linganore dam. Fox remarked that the incident was “one of the most catastrophic water events that we remember in recent history.” The Frederick County Sheriff’s Office and the Maryland State Police rescued the remaining members on Hembree’s trip. Several were hoisted to safety by helicopter. Fox stated that if it were not for the emergency crew’s resources and training the event would have been much worse.
Staying Safe this Summer
While boating on Maryland’s waterways appeals to many as a relaxing and leisurely event it can prove to be quite dangerous. This is particularly true when inclement weather interferes with an otherwise peaceful day. Boaters should always be on the lookout for storms and heed the weather advisories. With today’s technology, this task has been reduced to a simple touch of the smart phone. Checking the weather before planning a day of boating is important, but storms can approach quickly and unexpectedly even with the most advanced weather-reading technology. For this reason it is always a good idea to stay alert on the water. The Maryland Department of Natural Resources monitors the safety of the water and serves as a useful tool to track hazards. The authorities advise that if you believe you are stranded or about to be in need of rescue, do not hesitate to call. The more time they have to execute a rescue, the better the chances of survival.
If you or someone you love suffers a serious injury enjoying all that Maryland has to offer this summer contact our team at Bob Katz Law today to discuss your case.