VIDEO: Boating deaths mar Memorial Day weekend

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Good weather throughout most of the country had pleasure boaters taking to the water during the long Memorial Day weekend, with many in the north splashing their boats for the first time after a long, hard winter.

Four people died as accidents kept first responders busy all weekend. Here’s a roundup:

• South Florida investigators are investigating whether alcohol played a role in a deadly boating accident that occurred Sunday after a boat crashed into an anchored boat near Elliott Key.

The operator of a 23-foot boat with two other passengers crashed into a 36-foot boat about 10:30 p.m. Sunday. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission reported that the 36-foot boat was anchored and had its anchor lights on and the occupants were sleeping.

A female passenger on the 23-foot boat died in the accident.

“We don’t know exactly whether alcohol played a role or not, but we did feel confident enough on scene and had enough probable cause to be able to forcefully draw blood from the operator of the vessel,” FWC spokesman Jorge Pino told CBS Miami.

• A New Orleans family lost their 9-year-old son when a tube tied to a boat slammed into a tree with three people riding on it, killing a 9-year-old boy on Mississippi’s Wolf River.

“The dad and the other brother were crying and the mom had ran to the boat and seen what happened. And they left all their stuff behind the camera, clothes and ice chest behind and they all took off. And I heard one of the kids say, he was still breathing and that’s when I knew it was bad,” Jaime Dennis, who was out boating with his friends and family, told WLOX News.

• Coast Guardsmen were busy Sunday night rescuing three people from a 17-foot boat that was taking on water at the mouth of the Stono River in South Carolina and responding to a report of a 68-foot fishing boat with three people aboard that struck the south jetty at the entrance to Charleston Harbor and began flooding.

There were no injuries reported following either accident and all six people declined medical assistance.

• The Coast Guard responded to a boat taking on water, rescuing eight people on Michigan’s Muskegon Lake Sunday afternoon.

The rescue was on the southwest end of the lake about 1 p.m., according to the Coast Guard Ninth District External Affairs Office in Cleveland. All of the passengers on the 30-foot boat that was taking on water were safely brought on board the Coast Guard’s 45-foot response boat, which is stationed in Muskegon, officials said.

Once the passengers were safely off the sinking vessel, Coast Guard personnel boarded the boat and discovered a water-intake hose that was leaking. The leak was stopped and the boat was dewatered as it was towed to the Muskegon Yacht Club, Coast Guard officials said.

• The Coast Guard rescued a 50-year-old Oregon fisherman whose ship started sinking 16 miles off the coast of Yaquina Bay on Sunday.
Petty Officer Sierra Provart said the man alerted the Yaquina Bay station at 8:21 a.m. that his 28-foot boat, The Rip Rider, was taking on water. The situation grew dire minutes into the call.

After answering only two of the Coast Guard’s standard five questions — telling them his position and the nature of his distress — the man told station watchstanders he would need to put on his life suit. “As soon as he put on a life suit, his boat was vertical,” Provart told the Oregonian. “He had to get off of it.”

• Coast Guard crews in South Carolina are preparing to check for pollution near Charleston Harbor after a shrimp boat flooded and sank Sunday night. Six people were safe Monday morning after two boats flooded — one near Charleston Harbor and the other at the mouth of the Stono River.
Coast Guardsmen were called out to the mouth of the Stono River at 9:24 p.m. Sunday after reports that a vessel was disabled in rough seas, according to a report from News 2.

• A 17-year-old South Carolina teen drowned Saturday morning when he fell between two boats, according to a report by WBTW News.

• The Coast Guard medically evacuated a man from his vessel on Michigan’s Lake St. Clair after he suffered a finger injury late Sunday afternoon.

About 5 p.m., the watchstander at Coast Guard Station St. Clair Shores received a request for assistance over Rescue 21 on VHF-FM channel 16 from people aboard a boat with seven people aboard.

They said the operator had injured his finger between the hull and that of a personal watercraft while on Lake St. Clair in the vicinity of Grosse Pointe, Mich.

• The body of a missing kayaker was recovered south of Port Everglades in South Florida on Sunday after a good Samaritan found it. The victim is a 47-year-old man from Aiken, S.C.

• BoatUS reports that its 24-hour national dispatch centers received more than 1,800 requests for assistance from recreational boaters and anglers during the four-day (Friday-Monday) Memorial Day weekend. Great weather across the country was the main reason for the increased traffic, the boat owners group said.

“When weather is good, boating traffic is up, which leads to higher numbers of routine requests for jump-starts, fuel-drop offs or tows back to a launch ramp,” vice president of BoatUS Towing Services Adam Wheeler said in a statement.

The call tally does not include requests made directly to any of BoatUS’s individual 300 TowBoatUS or Vessel Assist locations.