Some people just donít get it : OH

Article Posted: March 15, 2000

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Division of Wildlife

LIMA, Ohio Ė Some people just donít get it --- especially foolhardy boaters and anglers.

Already, two boaters have died this year in accidents on Ohio waters. Another pair of boaters might have become fatality statistics had it not been for the efforts of 11-year old Chastity Snyder while fishing at Ferguson Reservoir here in Allen County.

Encouraged by exceptionally warm weather, two local anglers ventured onto Ferguson Reservoir the afternoon of March 6 in a canoe they had fixed over the winter. Like some other foolhardy souls, neither angler was prepared for the event of an emergency. And apparently, neither was wearing a personal flotation device. Something did happen around 6:30 p.m. and the canoe tipped over dumping both men into the 40-degree reservoir water. They tried to swim to safety, but their efforts began to seriously fail just 30 yards from the shoreline.

As incredible luck would have it in this particular case, Chastity, a fifth-grade elementary school student, said she could hear both men calling out to anyone for help. She happened to be fishing from the shoreline nearby at the time of the incident and came to the rescue. She jumped into the chilly waters and used her jacket as a life preserver when she approached one of the anglers who was about to drown. The second victim was brought to shore from about ten yards out in the water by a passerby who had called 911 for emergency response on her cellular phone, and with the help of Chastity who reentered the water a second time.

The near-fatal event and subsequent rescue had ended before emergency crews arrived. Both men were taken to Lima Memorial Hospital where they were treated for hypothermia and later released. The anglers perhaps should have had their heads examined as well.

"I was shocked. If she wouldnít have been there, you would have been doing my obituary," said James Moore to a local newspaper reporter.

This will not be the last story of its kind, and unfortunately, a few others may likely die due to ignorance. Despite the annual advisories and warnings made this time of year by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Watercraft, some people just donít get the message or reflect upon the notion of common sense.

Here is what the Division of Watercraft advised earlier this month:

Always wear a life jacket.
Check the latest weather forecast.
Dress for the water temperature, not the air temperature.
File a float plan.
Keep a proper lookout.
Do not overload a boat.
Boat sober.
Operate at a safe speed.
Wearing a life jacket alone can be a lifesaver even if no other safety measures are taken. Filing a float plan and dressing for the water temperature also can be live-savers. But above all, anglers, hunters, and boaters can avoid dangerous situations as the one on Ferguson Reservoir by adequately preparing for an emergency, and in some instances this time of year by simply staying off the water altogether.

Had it not been for a daughter fishing with a parent at that precise time and location, and the courage she displayed in attempting a cold-water rescue, these two Ohio anglers could easily have become boater fatality statistics.

The two fatalities that already were recorded this year occurred during a flood incident in February and during a waterfowl hunt in January.

"Early spring is a great time to enjoy fishing opportunities, but anglers must think well ahead of their fishing plans and plan for an emergency regardless of how and where they might be fishing. Following these cautionary points may help prevent a tragedy on the water," said Division of Wildlife Chief Michael J. Budzik

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