OHP: Kyle Williams Law Positively Impacting Teenagers' Safety On Lakes

Monday, September 6th 2010, 12:41 pm
By: News On 6

By Lori Fullbright, The News On 6

EUFAULA, Oklahoma -- Three years ago, Oklahoma passed the Kyle Williams law, designed to keep teenagers safe on area lakes. Troopers say they have already seen the positive effects of that law.

Kyle Williams and his cousin were riding jet skis at Lake Eufaula in 2004. One minute, they're having a great, carefree time, the next, they crashed into each other and Kyle was dead. His parents wanted to protect other children, so they pushed for a law that would require teenagers to go through boater safety classes.

"You have a boating fatality, I mean it changed the family forever," Oklahoma Highway Patrol Lake Trooper Danny Choat.

Lake Patrol troopers say the law is most certainly working. At Lake Eufaula this year, there has been one drowning, one near-drowning and four boating accidents that lead to one death.

Before the law, Oklahoma was one of only eight states that didn't require some type of water safety.

In the off-season Trooper Danny Choat teaches the boating safety course required by the Kyle Williams law. It says every kid between 12 and 16 years old must pass the six-hour class before they can drive a jet ski or boat alone.

"As far as I know, nobody on Lake Eufaula, and it's that way all around the state, nobody has worked an accident...knock on wood...of a kid who has gone through our course yet," Trooper Choat said.

According to OHP, there have been 48 boating accidents and 23 drownings in 2010 for the entire state. That's down from 65 boating accidents and 30 drownings in 2009 and 55 boating accidents and 41 drownings in 2008.

Trooper Choat said the mandatory class teaches kids the importance of paying attention and wearing life saving life vests. Now, he just wishes their parents would be as well trained.

In the Tulsa area, classes are held each month at the Bass Pro shop in Broken Arrow. You can also take the course online or get a DVD to study at home.

For more information on child water safety, visit Oklahoma Boating Education.