Saturday, May 22, 2010

May Day -- Sorrow in our drownings; follow-up and more tragedy

Very preliminary word has been received that a body believed to be Marty was recovered on Friday, May 21, 2010, twenty days after our friend disappeared overboard from the sailboat Constellation. The body was recovered near Long Point, about a mile north of where Marty was lost in the center of Elephant Butte Lake in southern New Mexico. The recovery of Marty's body should come as a huge relief to Marty's family and friends, who have had to endure the anxiety and pain of weeks of waiting on top of a tragic and shocking loss.

Initial relief at the news that Marty's body might have been found was tempered by a tragic and utterly unnecessary accident that happened only in the past week. Apparently, two men, aged 25 and 19, departed from the Lion's Beach shoreline of Elephant Butte Lake around 10:00 p.m. Tuesday night (and, no, it wasn't a full moon night and they likely had no lights on) and paddled most of the way across the lake. They didn't make it.

Somewhere between Rattlesnake Island and the mouth of MacRae Canyon, from word we've heard, the canoe capsized. Neither man had a life preserver. They were able to hold on to the canoe for a while, but became chilled in the cold, dark water and decided to swim for shore. One made it. One didn't.

The survivor was picked up by a fisherman the next morning. Rescuers still have a body to search for. In New Mexico, paddlers are required to wear life preservers. Unfortunately, safety seemed not to be a concern during this cruise.

Also unfortunately, these deaths at Elephant Butte Lake have not been the only ones so far this year. Despite it being early and well before the main boating season.

From what I've heard, a man had outgrown his life preserver so he left it in his truck before going fishing on Santa Cruz Lake in northern New Mexico. He may have thought he had enough natural flotation. He was wrong, dead wrong.

To the south, it seems that two army soldiers rented a flat-bottomed boat from a recreation organization at Fort Bliss, near El Paso, Texas. From the rumour I've heard, the two were novice boaters, they were not given a safety briefing, and the boat was not equipped with safety equipment. The two were accompanied by a girlfriend, who wore a life preserver. When the winds became strong, the boat flipped. The woman survived. The soldiers died.

Marine safety officers are agonized and frustrated over these losses. So, don't expect any breaks if you try to go out and operate your boat unsafely or without safety equipment.

Do you remember what kind of life preserver is the very best kind?
The answer is in a recent post.

the best life preserver

. n r o w s i t a h t e n o e h t s i (.d.f.p) r e v r e s r e p e f i l t s e b e h T

Any questions?


At 3:36 PM, May 22, 2010, Blogger Pat said...

A quote from the May 20, 2010, press release by the NM State Parks:

ELEPHANT BUTTE LAKE, NM – A 25-year old man is missing from a canoe that capsized last night. The man went out in the canoe yesterday evening at approximately 10:00 p.m. with another 19-year old man. Reportedly the two men left a camp at Lions Beach at Elephant Butte Lake State Park to go out on the lake. The canoe capsized somewhere between Rattlesnake Island and McRae Canyon. As reported by the 19-year old man, the two men stayed with the canoe for a while, became cold and decided to swim to shore, but got separated. The 19-year old man made it to shore and was picked up by a fisherman at about 6:30 a.m. today. Neither man apparently was wearing a lifejacket.

At 6:12 PM, May 23, 2010, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Watersports are dengerous, and will remain such forever. Stll, they are so fascinating!

At 8:47 PM, May 23, 2010, Blogger bonnie said...

No questions at all.

I'm glad to hear that your friend was found.

What an awful string of bad luck. I hope that that's the end of it & that such a quick string of tragic events at least gets a lot of boaters who didn't think they needed them re-thinking that.

At 8:52 PM, May 23, 2010, Blogger bonnie said...

"think they needed them" -

"them" = lifejackets, of course.


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