During the first 36 hours of Memorial Day Weekend, the Grand River Dam Authority police reported a series of unfortunate events, including two fatalities, seven injuries, and an explosion. These incidents have highlighted the potential dangers faced by outdoor enthusiasts in Oklahoma during the start of the outdoor season. However, authorities believe that these tragic occurrences could have been avoided.
It should be noted that all of these incidents happened across Oklahoma with many of the unfortunate accidents taking place just outside of Tulsa.
In the days leading up to the holiday weekend, officials had been providing warnings and safety advice for activities such as boating and off-roading. Despite these efforts, the majority of the incidents reported over the weekend were a direct result of individuals disregarding expert guidance.
One of the incidents occurred on Saturday afternoon in the Honey Creek area of Grand Lake. An 87-year-old man, who remains unidentified, tragically drowned after stepping off a boat and missing the dock.
Shortly after the drowning, there was a collision involving a single boat on Lake Hudson, which resulted in two women being hospitalized.
Around the same time, another incident unfolded on Lake Eufaula. The Oklahoma Highway Patrol reported that a 68-year-old man, who was intoxicated, intentionally rammed a Department of Wildlife boat. Fortunately, despite having seven passengers on his own boat, including three children, no one was injured.
Less than an hour later, a boat exploded near the Check-In Bay region of Grand Lake. This unfortunate incident left five people, including a 5-year-old child, with injuries.
This table of statistics from the US Coast Guard shows what you should look out for when using your boat. By far the most number of accidents came from collisions with other vessels, and third most was fixed objects. This shows that captains are easily distracted and should pay attention to the water at all times – especially when other passengers are on board.
Open motorboats were by far the most dangerous types of vessel – which makes sense since they offer far less protection than a traditional boat.
But by far the most concerning and easily avoidable death was not wearing a life jacket. In 450 out of 534 deaths, the person who died was not wearing their life jacket. This is quite a shocking number and shows that even when there is a collision or swamping of the boat, this one simple safety protocol can save your life.