Even in this era of safety regulations touching every aspect of modern life, no one should ever take water safety for granted…even on a unitized, self-contained vessel such as a Personal Watercraft (PWC). A recent event proves this and underscores the life-saving wisdom of wearing PFD’s and knowing how to swim.
Chris Wilkins’ son had just returned to the dock on Lake Keowee. Chris boarded the PWC and was leaving the dock when without warning the craft exploded, throwing Chris several feet into the air. He landed unconscious, face down in the water. Although Chris had not taken any boating safety classes, he was well aware of water safety guidelines and was wearing a PFD. His 13 year old son, who is a great swimmer, swam to him, flip him onto his back, and towed him back to shore, where he quickly regained consciousness.
EMS transported Chris to a hospital, where it was determined he sustained three compressed vertebrae and a badly bruised ankle. He was released to go home from the hospital for home rest.
Chris was very fortunate…death or paralysis of some sort could have been a consequence. He was also fortunate that he landed in the water rather than on the dock or a nearby pontoon boat. The destroyed PWC is in the process of becoming a DNR-approved a fish haven. Even if it had been retrieved, it would probably be impossible to determine what caused the explosion.
Submitted by D/L/C Jim Wilkins, AP
D26 Admin Officer