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Mark Bello
Mark Bello
Attorney • (877) 377-7848

Cruising the Waterways with Safety in Mind

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Pontoon boats have been popular for decades due to their ability to support a large group of people, room to move about on deck and enough room for coolers and other recreational items.

A July 4 pontoon boat outing to watch fireworks over the Ohio River in Louisville, KY turned tragic when the boat collided with a construction barge and overturned. Nine people, including five children were on board. Three of the children grabbed the barge and pulled themselves to safety, then pulled an adult from the wreckage. The five others died. When fire department rescuers arrived at the scene, the 24-foot pontoon boat was pinned against the barge.

According to the owner of the boat rental company, he had previously rented watercraft to the people involved in the accident and provided safety instructions prior to their first boat trip. He said everyone on board was in compliance with rules as they left the dock. Investigators are still trying to determine what caused the boat to crash, but speculation is that the boat may have been pinned against the staging barge and at some point capsized due to the current. There is no indication that alcohol was a factor.

This tragic accident demonstrates how important it is for boaters to exercise caution on our waters. Before venturing out:

  • Perform an equipment check.
  • Check the weather.
  • Be aware of conditions such as the current.
  • Make sure flotation devices and life vests are on board, enough for all passengers.

Once on board, be mindful of weather, current changes and other boaters and nearby vessels.

While a pontoon boat may be a way to spend your summer, safety should always come first as with any water vehicle. Know what to do in extreme situations and follow the tips to remain safe at all times.

Mark Bello is the CEO and General Counsel of Lawsuit Financial Corporation, a pro-justice lawsuit funding company.