Tragedy struck Seneca Lake this Labor Day weekend. A fatal boating accident happened near Juniper Point in Yates County near the town of Starkey. Two men, one the owner of nearby Glen Harbor Marina, took a high-speed “cigar” style boat owned by the Marina out for a test drive. As the boat was traveling at about 80 miles per hour, the driver apparently took a sharp turn that sent both men flying overboard into the rough water. The boat continued to circle at a high rate of speed with no men on board. One of the men, apparently the driver, who was wearing a life jacket, was rescued by witnesses and suffered a broken sternum, but the body of the other, the owner of the marina, was not found until Sunday by using remote control vehicles. He was not wearing a life jacket.
In another accident, a canoe capsized in the middle of Seneca Lake where it is three- miles wide. One of the canoists was wearing a life jacket. albeit somewhat small for him, and was able to float by the canoe and await help, but the other, who had no life jacket, was forced to swim all the way to the shore in the rough water. Fortunately, he made it and avoided tragedy.
New York State boating law does not require boaters to actually wear their life jackets — it only requires there to be a life jacket in the boat for all boaters. But as a Finger Lakes boating accident lawyer , I can tell you from experience that actually wearing your life jacket is a very good idea. As these two accidents demonstrate, it is an especially good idea to put your life jacket on under obviously more dangerous circumstances, such as when traveling at night or at high speeds, when taking sharp turns, when an inexperienced boat operator is driving, on rough water, or in a small unstable vessel. Remember that even if you are an excellent swimmer, you may be rendered unconscious if you are ejected by a sharp turn, or by a collision with debris, other objects or other boats.