Waverunners Could Cause Problems During Memorial Day Weekend

Sunday, May 21st 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

Many boaters call them bugs on the water, but they're people who ride wave runners.

Some complain that they're pesky and put others in danger. The complaints are already off to an early start because of nice weather and low water levels.

Many people fear next weekend's holiday could be dangerous if folks on wave runners don't obey the law.

"It's a love, it's an addiction," says boater Brian Pounds.

So, it's hard to keep Pounds and Phil Pill away from the water. Last year they fought off terribly high water on Memorial Day weekend.

This memorial day they expect to fight off people.

"Water is down low enough, everybody will get the sense that it's great, safe, it won't be," says Pounds.

That's because he says a big crowd and wave runners hitting speeds of more than 60 miles per hour are a recipe for disaster.

Plus, the wave runners love making quick turns when they see boats with big wakes.

"We throw a big enough wake that every wave runner within ten miles will pick us up in a heartbeat," Pounds says.

It's against the law for wave runners to be within 50 feet of a moving boat.

A boaters say a recipe for disaster is when a wave runner throws a rider when another boat is close-by.

A recent study found ten percent of watercraft are wave runners and jet skies and those watercraft cause nearly fifty percent of the accidents.

"Personal water craft's are about 80 percent of our headaches out here on the water," says Trooper Keith Kuhn.

Kuhn thinks all people who use personal water craft and even boats should have to take some sort of safety course.

In the meantime, the Lake Patrol tries to do their own teaching.

"Some people you can educate with a warning, written or verbal, ...other people the only way to educate them is with a 290 dollar ticket," Kuhn says.

But two officers can't cover an entire lake, so these boaters worry that it will take more injuries or deaths until wave-runner riders start using more sense.

The lake patrol says unprepared boaters also pose a danger to themselves.

Troopers say boaters should test their life jackets before using them, because they could become damaged during the winter.

They also remind people to make sure they have a fire extinquisher on board.