Recent accidents put boaters on alert

- Mistakes on the water made for a rough Memorial Day weekend for some boaters across Tampa Bay.

One person was killed in a boat crash in St. Petersburg on Friday, while two others were injured in a separate crash near Clearwater Monday morning.


Memorial Day and July Fourth are the busiest times for boat traffic, according to Florida Fish and Wildlife officials.

Boaters in Clearwater Beach said the water looked more like rush hour traffic for most of the weekend.

“There were people speeding through areas they shouldn’t be speeding, like low water,” said boater David Buss.

“Most of the boats I’ve seen all day are completely, totally overloaded to the capacity that they were designed for,” said Daniel Houghton, who stayed aboard his boat at the dock most of the day due to overcrowding on the water.

In an effort to curb poor boating practices, the FWC and local law enforcement spent much of Memorial Day heavily patrolling beaches across Tampa Bay.

In Pinellas County, there were two major boat accidents over the three-day weekend.

Phillip Stock, 40, was killed Friday night in an accident where two boats collided in Bayboro Harbor.
Investigators are still working to determine if alcohol was involved in the crash.

Monday morning, another boat crashed into a jetty near Sand Key Park in Clearwater. Two people were taken to the hospital with minor injuries.

Water safety experts and experienced boaters are stressing the importance of knowing basic rules of the water before operating a boat, such as not drinking while boating, avoiding excessive speeds, and staying to the right side of the channel to allow other boaters to pass.

“If they’re not paying attention, they can get in a lot of trouble very quickly,” said Houghton.

Experts say water safety starts at the dock with checking equipment like flares and whistles before leaving, in addition to making sure everyone on board is wearing a life jacket.

 

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