Lack of life preservers can be costly, and deadly

Jane BeathardFailing to wear or carry a life preserver while boating can be costly — and deadly. That’s the message the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) emphasizes as Ohio’s recreational boating season gets underway.

“Our No. 1 cause of drowning is falling overboard and not wearing a life jacket,” according to Melissa Clark, Springfield-area supervisor for the ODNR Division of Watercraft.

Paul E. Remmetter, 68, of Springfield, left his life jacket lying on the floor of his boat as he fished Caesar Creek Lake alone on the morning of Friday, May 25. That omission, coupled with an inability to swim, likely cost Remmetter his life.

He apparently fell overboard from the bow of the boat and struggled in the water. A nearby fisherman saw Remmetter’s predicament and eventually got the man to shore, according to an ODNR spokesman.

However, all efforts to revive Remmetter were unsuccessful. He was pronounced dead at the scene by the Warren County coroner. Results of an autopsy are pending.

Remmetter’s death was the state’s second boating fatality of the year. The first occurred on Indian Lake in April.

Failing to carry life preservers in their boats proved expensive for two men caught fishing a quarry on Taylor Blair Road near West Jefferson in mid May. A public fishing access makes the quarry popular with local anglers.

Madison County Wildlife Officer Matt Teders cited Gary F. White, 51, 420 S. Powell Ave., Columbus, and James R. Haley, 49, 108 Parkdale Drive, West Jefferson, for failing to carry life jackets in their watercrafts.

The offense is a fourth-degree misdemeanor in Ohio, punishable by up to $250 in fines and 30 days in jail. Penalties vary by county.

White and Haley paid $150 each in fines and court costs, according to Madison County Municipal Court records.

Teders was conducting routine fishing license and bag limit checks along Little Darby Creek about 12:15 p.m. on Saturday, May 19, when he spotted “pelican boats” belonging to White and Haley on quarry waters. Neither boat had life jackets on board.

Teders called White and Haley “good guys” who simply made a mistake and were unaware of state rules governing watercraft safety.

Boaters in Ohio are required to have a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket that is in good condition and the proper size and type for every person on board. Children younger than age 10 must wear a life preserver at all times while on board a boat less than 18 feet in length.

Boat owners or operators may be cited for violating the law, depending on the situation, Teders said.

Categories: Ohio – Jane Beathard

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