State parks rangers pushing boating safety this summer

Posted at 9:45 PM, May 27, 2013
and last updated 2013-05-28 00:01:20-04

PROVO -- Ranger Jason Allen isn't even out of the marina before he stops a personal watercraft for a violation.

A man on a Jet Ski is towing a girl on an inner-tube. He asks her to get on the Jet Ski, then makes sure the rope for the tube is secure before sending them on their way.

A few feet later, he asks a group of college students on a sailboat to show him their life jackets. As he starts to count them, a man shouts out "Five!"

"That was a quick five," he says to them. "Show me again. One, two... I only see four!"

The man admits there's only four. Allen writes them a ticket.

"You know the rules, just have enough life jackets for your people, OK?" he tells the man.

"Yeah, we just left it in the car. I'm sorry," the man replies.

"OK. Sign here."

State parks rangers are pushing boating safety as the summer begins. Hundreds of people had their boats out on Utah Lake over the Memorial Day weekend, keeping rangers busy. The Coast Guard's auxiliary was also called out to provide assistance.

Allen said they provided search and rescue services to three boats on Sunday, and nine other assists, like towing a boat that's out of gas.

"This is one of the big four weekends that we get," Allen told FOX 13. "Really high visitation, a lot of boat use. The Coast Guard was saying 100 plus boats up on the north end of the lake outside Lindon and American Fork."

Utah Lake is relatively shallow water, but there have been numerous fatalities because the swells can get quite high. Allen said it is not uncommon to see 5-6 foot swells that can swamp a boat or drown a swimmer.

Rangers are urging people to ensure that they have the proper safety equipment before heading out on Utah's waters. Life jackets are a must for every passenger on board; an orange flag for water skiers; floatation devices for boats and other necessary safety equipment.

"Actually, compliance has been relatively high compared to past years," Allen said Monday. "But there's always room for improvement."