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As summer heats up, more Michigan residents head to the lakes to enjoy themselves. Many will take boats onto Lake Michigan and the state’s many smaller interior lakes. But three recent fatal boating accidents remind residents that boating can be dangerous.
Boating can be a fun summer pass-time for Michigan families when done safely. But boating at night or in poor weather conditions can put you at risk of an accident.
Lake Michigan has already seen its share of fatal boating accidents in 2015. In May, a Byron City resident crashed his brand new boat into the Pigeon Lake Channel Pier in Port Sheldon Township. He was headed south along Lake Michigan in foggy conditions when his boat struck the northern pier. The boat owner was killed and his three passengers were taken to a Grand Rapids hospital with serious injuries.
Two weeks later, on the evening of June 1, another boat sailed west out of New Buffalo across Lake Michigan, headed for Chicago. When it was still several miles out, the boat caught fire. All four passengers jumped into the lake wearing life vests. But because they were so far from shore, it was dawn before the first boater was found. An hour later one of his fellow passengers was rescued, but she did not survive.
These two accidents in two weeks provide a stark reminder of the importance of monitoring weather conditions and having working safety equipment on board while boating.
In the Pigeon Lake accident, foggy conditions made it hard for the inexperienced boater to see the pier. Because he was unfamiliar with his surroundings, he may not have known the pier was there, or recognized the lights warning of its location in the fog.
The group heading home from New Buffalo made a similar miscalculation – leaving too late in the day. When their boat caught fire no one could see that they were in danger. Because of this, they had to spend the night separated in the water, and it cost some of them their lives.
Whenever you go boating, whether on Lake Michigan or anywhere else, it is essential that you have working safety equipment. A headlight mounted to the front windshield of the Pigeon Lake boat could have revealed the pier in time for the driver to avoid the accident. For the Chicago boaters, a working radio would have let them call for help and be rescued far sooner.
If you and your family decide to hit the waves this summer, make sure you keep a close eye on the weather and stock your boat with safety equipment. It could save your lives.
David Christensen is a boat accident attorney at Christensen Law in Southfield, Michigan. He represents the victims of boating accidents against their insurance companies and negligent boaters to make sure they get the compensation they need. If you know someone who was seriously injured in a boating accident, contact Christensen Law today for a free consultation.