By Marc Lamber | Point of View
The haunting trend of drowning accidents at Lake Pleasant has taken a distressing turn, with eight tragic deaths already recorded in 2023.
Shockingly, five of these fatalities occurred after Memorial Day, indicating a spike over six weeks.
Maricopa County Supervisor Thomas Galvin voiced his alarm earlier this summer expressing deep concern about the number of rising, fatal boating accidents transpiring on our cherished lakes.
The urgency to address this issue has only been reinforced by an incident last week on Lake Pleasant involving a 5-year-old child and his 42-year-old uncle, both caught in a perilous struggle underwater. While the child was revived, the uncle unfortunately lost his life.
The statistics from 2022 cast a long and grim shadow, as the lake experienced six consecutive weekends marred by fatalities—an alarming 600% increase compared to the previous year’s tragic occurrences. It is evident that more education and heightened vigilance on Lake Pleasant is necessary to stop these avoidable deaths.
While accidents on the water may persist, educating the public on recreational boating laws and promoting safe practices at the lake can serve as essential tools to mitigate these devastating tragedies.
Arizona has made its boating laws clear. Those engaged in recreational boating at Lake Pleasant, and other Arizona lakes should know and understand Arizona’s Title 5 and how the law impacts them.
- It is unlawful for any person to allow another person under the age of 12 to operate a motor-powered watercraft unless there is an emergency or someone over the age of 18 is on the watercraft.
- No person under the influence of liquor or drugs, or who is mentally or physically incapable of operating a watercraft under prevailing circumstances, shall be in physical control of any watercraft.
- The operator of any watercraft involved in an accident which results in injury or property damage shall immediately stop such watercraft, give their name and address and the name and address of the owner to the injured party and, render reasonable assistance.
- While marinas may impose liability insurance requirements for boat rentals or docking, Arizona law does not mandate that boat owners carry any insurance.
Staying alert, knowing the law and saving lives at Lake Pleasant
All individuals who own, lend or operate recreational boats on Arizona’s lakes should thoughtfully consider obtaining liability insurance, comprehensive coverage, property damage insurance, as well as uninsured and underinsured coverage.
Similar to motor vehicle insurance, these lines of coverage safeguard boat owners and renters in the event of damages or harm caused by or to the boat. Most importantly, they provide critical protection for injuries that occur on a boat, or collisions with other boats. Prioritizing safety is paramount.
By raising awareness, enforcing adherence to boating laws and by encouraging responsible practices, we can create an environment where Lake Pleasant becomes a haven for leisure and enjoyment, free from the tragic specter of preventable accidents.
Together, let’s champion safety and preserve the precious lives that grace our lake’s waters.
Editor’s note: Marc Lamber is a Martindale Hubbell AV Preeminent-rated trial attorney at Phoenix-based Fennemore.