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West Virginia Wildlife
Boating Safety
Patrick McMurtry Keeping It Safe On The Water

July 4, 2012
Reporter: Patrick McMurtry
Videographer: Brad Rice


Summer is here and the Fourth of July weekend is one of the busiest times on area lakes and rivers. With so many people out boating and jet skiing, State Natural Resources police are going to be out patrolling the waters, doing their best to keep everyone safe, and alive.

"Hello folks, my name is officer Fayak with Natural Resource police and I just want to make sure, are you anchored or drifting? If you're drifting, you're considered underway and kids 13 and under have to have their life jackets on. If someone hits your boat accidentally and they hit their head and go in the water, they're going to be dead, they're not going to make it. We're trying to be proactive here and make sure these kids are safe out here." says Fayak.

Officer Fayak wrote this guy a ticket because he didn't complete boater education, if he had, he would have known what he needs to do to keep his kids safe on the water. The boat was ordered docked. Fayak says the toughest part of his job is working accidents, especially ones where someone is hurt or killed, that's why he doesn't mess around with safety violations...you violate a safety law, you're getting a ticket. On a river like the Kanawha, there are barges everywhere, and they can sneak up on you pretty quickly, and that can be big trouble.

"The barges, they can't stop on a dime and it might take a mile or two to stop and people will be sitting there not paying attention and if nobody is there to lookout, we can get them for not having a lookout." says Fayak.

Better a ticket for that than a funeral for a boater killed in an accident. And speaking of accidents, Fayak says people have really done a good job at getting the message about not drinking and operating a boat, he says those types of violations are way down because people are, for the most part, obeying the law. Still, there are violations and safety checks to do.

"We're gonna stop you here for a second and I'll explain to you why once we get stable. The reason why we stopped you there is because we noticed you're spacing is not correct and the letters need to be on the other side." says Fayak.

A routine stop followed by a routine safety check...everything's ok here, but there are still plenty of boats on the water this Friday night.

"Do you have any ID on you? No? When were you born? Do you have your boating education card? Do you have your card with you? We have a couple of things wrong here. We are not going to write you a citation, you have 5 days to present your registration and boater education card to our office." says Fayak.

Polite, efficient and there for your safety, just another night at the office for Natural Resource Police just doing their job to keep things flowing smoothly on our rivers and lakes.

LEARN MORE at the W. Va. DNR


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