Proceedings Of The Marine

SPR 2016

Proceedings magazine is a communication tool for the Coast Guard's Marine Safety & Security Council. Each quarterly magazine focuses on a specific theme of interest to the marine industry.

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60 Proceedings Spring 2016 www.uscg.mil/proceedings According to testimony, the mate aboard the UTV never saw the personal watercraft with the operator aboard, nor did he see the PWC overtake his vessel. Once the PWC surfaced, another crewmember aboard the towing vessel reported it to the mate and advised him there was no operator aboard, nor did he see anyone in the water. He also reported he didn't see any visible signs of damage to the watercraft, though investigators later discovered damage to its port side — cracked fberglass, transfer/scratches on the cowling port/forward. It wasn't until more than three hours later that the personal watercraft operator surfaced. She was wearing a lifejacket and foating in between the frst and second barges of the port string of barges in tow. The deckhands aboard the tow- ing vessel retrieved the woman and presumed her deceased as a victim of drowning. They placed her in blankets, covered her, and prayed. Emergency medical services arrived on the scene shortly thereafter, boarded the tow, and confrmed no signs of life. Medics transported the victim ashore for medi- cal evaluation, identifcation, and next-of-kin notifcation. hour, and she soon overtook the UTV and its tow, crossing its trackline. Somehow, the woman either fell or was ejected from the personal watercraft. A Coast Guard marine investigator and boating accident investigator used evidence and testimony to piece together the woman's fnal hours. According to the report of investigation, it's suspected that she engaged the bow wake of the tow being pushed upriver at a high rate of speed. The reaction of the PWC at the point of engage- ment with this wake was unpredictable and dependent on the operator's inputs, such as throttle control and weight distribution, leading investigators to believe that the oper- ator lost control of the personal watercraft, sustained an incapacitating injury, and fell from the personal watercraft directly in front of the tow. The river current then carried the personal watercraft and the woman in front of the head of the tow, where both col- lided with an empty tank barge. The tank barge was posi- tioned at the head of the port string of barges being pushed ahead by the tow vessel. The PWC soon emerged on the tow's port side. A wheelhouse view of the tow. The tow and tow vessel. U.S. Coast Guard photos. Damage to the personal watercraft (story 1).

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