Accidents on Iowa waterways about the same as last year, fewer fatalities

- Published: 19 August 2015
Accidents on Iowa waterways about the same as last year, fewer fatalities

Two people were thrown off their tube this past weekend when a rope broke as they were being pulled on the Mississippi River near Clinton.  One  suffered injuries when he hit some rocks.

Iowa Department of Natural Resources spokesman, Kevin Baskins, says they are still investigating to determine if excessive speed or some other factors were involved.

Baskins says it has been a busy boating season, and relatively safe. “We have had 32 boating or vessel incidents so far this year. Unfortunately three of them have resulted in fatalities. If you look at 2014, we had seven fatalities and 32 incidents. In 2013 we had three fatalities and 24 incidents,” Baskins says. “But we are down from some years — if you go back to 2005 — we actually had 77 incidents that year and 10 fatalities.”

Baskins says one big key to preventing deaths in accidents on the water is something they talked about all the time. “The fact that everybody on board needs to have a proper fitting life jacket on. You never know when something is going to throw you in the water, and once that happens, it’s really too late to put on,” Baskins says. He says making sure you have enough distance and not going too fast is another safety tip.

Baskins says boaters also need to stay sober when they are driving the boat. “For instance, last year when we had seven fatalities on the water, 71 percent of those had alcohol related. You go back to 2013, it was 66 percent, 2012 it was 70 percent,” according to Baskins. “Certainly we are not saying people can’t have alcohol on the water. But they need to be conscious of how much they are having.”

There have been some heavy rains and high water at times this year, but Baskins says that hasn’t appeared to be a problem. “We haven’t had a lot of reports in terms of incidents of debris and hitting debris and stuff like that,” Baskins says. He says those are concerns you have with heavy rains, then you sometimes get debris washed into the water which can cause problems.

Baskins says 31-year-old Kurt Parker of Fulton, Illinois was the person injured in the accident Sunday on the Mississippi. Parker crashed into the shoreline after the tube’s tow rope broke and he was thrown on the shore and knocked unconscious. He was treated in Clinton for head injuries and later transferred to Iowa City where an injury report is not available.