Following deadly crash, Memorial Day brings boating safety into focus

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BOCA GRANDE, Fla. A deadly Saturday on the water has officials sounding a warning to boaters.

Two separate incidents on the Caloosahatchee River claimed the life of 12-year-old Noah Pollock and injured four others. The crash that killed the boy happened when a boat struck the base of the Midpoint Memorial Bridge.

It’s unclear whether alcohol was a factor in that crash, but crews are paroling waters to curb impaired boating as Memorial Day weekend continues.

“We’re looking for people that are operating carelessly and possibly under the influence of alcohol,” Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission spokesman Brian Norris said. “BUIs are something that we take very seriously.”

Norris has safety tips for boaters:

1. Plan ahead

“Before you leave the dock, make sure you’ve got enough life jackets for everybody on the boat, a throwable device (like a floating ring you can toss in the water and hang on to), a fire extinguisher and a sound-producing device,” Norris said.

2. Designate a sober pilot

“We always recommend having a designated driver,” Norris said. “Anytime you’re going to be out on the water consuming alcohol, just like you would in a car, have somebody that’s going be sober that can get you back to the ramp safely.”

3. Let others know about your plans

“Tell somebody where you’re going and when you expect to be back,” Norris said. “Carry a VHF radio, a personal locator beacon. That way if something goes wrong, you can push a button and Coast Guard and FWC and the sheriff’s office can respond to your exact location.”

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