June 27, 2011 8:00:00 AM
I just read another "horror story" of a close call involving anglers and life jackets.
Last month at The Bassmaster Elite event at Lake Murray, professional angler James Niggemeyer came across an unmanned boat in the middle of the lake that was idling toward a man and small boy in the water. The little boy had a life jacket on but the father didn''t.
Niggemeyer saw the father waving his arms and went to the man. He maneuvered his boat between the approaching vessel and the people in the water allowing the boat to crash into his tournament rig. Once the boat collided, the tournament marshal that was riding along for the tournament, Russ Sorrells, jumped into the other boat and killed the engine. Sorrells helped the 2-year-old boy into the boat and then the father.
What might have happened if Niggemeyer hadn''t been there? The least that could have happened is the father would have drowned. The outboard motor also could have injured or even killed one or both of them.
I have written about the importance of wearing life jackets in the winter, but the majority of the boating public is on the water in the warmer months. The majority of the people in boats don''t wear life jackets while running the outboard engine.
Tournament anglers have to wear life jackets if their boat is on the plane. Some tournaments mandate life jackets must be worn if the outboard engine is running.
Anyone in a boat who is 13 years old or younger must wear a life jacket at all times. I see parents who don''t know this or who allow their child to talk them into letting them take it off. It only takes one accident to change your life forever.
Niggemeyer''s story also is important because the father wasn''t wearing the kill switch lanyard. If so, the motor would have cut off when he dove into the water to rescue his son.
Even if you think you are above wearing a life jacket while boating, wear the kill switch lanyard. People have been seriously injured in this area when they were run over by their boat.
It only takes a second to wrap it around your wrist or attach to your waist. Not only could it save your life, but it also could save the life of someone else.
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Thirty-two boats competed last week at the Thursday Night Tournaments directed by Tony and Marian Parson. Bryan Hall and Daniel Holocher won the event with 6.87 pounds. Colton Studdard and Richard Keene finished second (6.13 pounds), Davis Jordan and Zach Foster took third (5.54) and had the big bass of the tournament (4.07). Dave Andrews and Les Wozniak finished fourth (5.52), and Jeffery Davis and Jason Mitchell took fifth (5.12).
For more information on fishing the Thursday Night Tournaments, contact Parson at (662) 386-9629.
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