RECENT ACCIDENTS AT THE STICK MARSH
By Jim Porter
April 22, 2003
Down at the lower right of our Home Page, you will find our Great Truths of Fishing. #4 is "Momma always said to 'be safe' ". Lately, that hasn't been the case.
Two weeks ago, on a windy Sunday afternoon, three gentlemen loaded themselves into a small Jon boat. Two came back to the ramp in body bags. It may have been that the boat was a bit overloaded with people and all the gear. It is for sure the strong northeasterly winds play a role in the tragedy. All I was able to learn was that the boat started to take on water and all three people wound up overboard. None had a life jacket. None could swim. One managed to hold onto the boat. The other two perished.
The boat DID NOT sink, as I saw it at the dock on its trailer later on, with what appeared to be all the gear still inside. It did appear as though the boat may have been overpowered for its size. I witnessed an accident some years ago on the Marsh, wherein a Jon boat was running at high speed across the middle of the impoundment, right through all those submerged stumps. They found one of those stumps; one that was just an inch or so beneath the surface. One edge of the fast-moving boat went up on the stump and that threw the boat up on its side, as well as turned it suddenly about 90 degrees. Again, two people were thrown out, one being a 4 year-old child. Thanks to some nearby bass boats, all were rescued.
Yesterday, I met my party at the ramp at noon for a half-day outing. There we found another major accident. Fortunately, this one was not a live-threatening event. But, it again pointed out faulty equipment, lack of attention to detail, and poor judgement.
The picture tells it all. Either the parking brake was faulty or not set, or the transmission failed to stay in Park. Either way, the truck and trailer rolled back into the water and the truck actually started to float. As it floated for a few moments, the truck turned 90 degrees to the ramp. Then, as it filled with water and started to sink, the vehicle rolled over on its side. It took two wreckers a couple of hours to extract the truck and trailer. I am sure both were total losses.
As the Indian River County Sheriff's deputy and I looked over the retrieved vehicle and trailer, it became very clear that this particular accident, by happening, may have saved another more serious one from occurring. The hitch ball was attached to the step-bumper of the old model truck. That step-bumper was completely rusted out and was ready to drop the hitch ball and trailer at any time. Coming off on the highway could have caused a very serious accident.
- Bad judgement
- Defective equipment
- Lack of attention to detail
- Poor application of common sense
Yep, both accidents were probably a combination of one or more of those factors.
Learn from the mistakes of others. Remember, "Momma always said to 'be safe."
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