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Another state bans teak surfing

MARCH 27 Legislation has been passed in the state of Washington banning the potentially deadly practice known as “teak surfing.”

The bill, called the Jenda Jones and Denise Colbert Safe Boating Act after two swimmers who died in separate accidents from teak surfing on Pierce County’s Lake Tapps, was signed into law by Gov. Chris Gregoire on March 20, news reports say. The new law states that boat operators can be fined up to $100 for allowing a passenger to teak surf, dive or bodysurf.

Teak surfing, also referred to as platform dragging, is when a passenger hangs onto the swim deck, platform, step or ladder of a moving powerboat and body surfs the wake. The activity is dangerous because it places the “surfers” within inches of the exhaust ports — the area where CO concentrations are found in lethal levels — and within hazardous proximity of the boat’s propellers, according to the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators.

Colbert, who was 21, died in 2003 after apparently inhaling a fatal amount of carbon monoxide while teak surfing, reports say. Twenty-two-year-old Jones, who was also teak surfing, died last August. The girls’ fathers, Jay Colbert and Marble Jones, had petitioned the state government to make additional education available for boaters about the dangers of CO and of teak surfing.

The new law also requires the state Parks and Recreation Commission to include information about CO poisoning in brochures and as part of boater safety courses, reports say. Other states that have banned teak surfing include California, Nevada and Pennsylvania.

Jason Fell