Don’t take safety for granted

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Sad news from a Louisiana lake.

Again.

It happens way too often. Fishermen, boaters, skiers, hunters or just folks out for a swim off the sandbar. And somebody ends up dead by drowning. It can be anybody — young boys or old men — or anybody in between.

The most recent case was another boating accident on the massive Toledo Bend Reservoir, where sudden spring winds can make the lake look like the Gulf of Mexico. We have lakes like that right here in our backyard, too.

All of this in a nutshell is a simple warning. BE CAREFUL ON THE WATER.

Wear your life jacket. Let people know where you are going. And don’t take chances that can turn a fun afternoon of fishing into your last afternoon on earth. It’s okay to wear a life jacket. It’s okay to turn back. It’s okay to end a fishing trip early. Do it for yourself, your family and your friends.

Louisiana saw an 18% increase in recreational boating accidents in 2020 from the year prior, a new U.S. Coast Guard report shows. Last year, 124 boating accidents were reported in Louisiana. Of those, 23 were fatal and resulted in the deaths of 24 people. This trend was also seen nationwide. From 2019 to 2020, boating accidents increased by 26.3% and fatal accidents increased by 25.1% across the U.S. Numbers for 2021 have not been finalized.

There have been four drownings and three group rescues by LDWF already this spring.

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If you want more on the latest one of this sad situations, consider this writeup from the Sabine Parish Sheriff’s Office, March 14 at 8:58 PM

“Sheriff Aaron Mitchell announces both missing fisherman have been identified and recovered from Toledo Bend Lake. To recap, two fishermen never returned from a fishing trip Friday, March 11th. The two were reported missing to the Sabine Parish Sheriff’s Office at approximately 3:30PM Saturday, March 12th.

Sheriff Deputies, Wildlife Agents and other volunteers began the search from the Solan’s Camp boat launch at the end of LA Highway 482 in the Ebarb community. The first fisherman’s body was located at 8:00PM between a boat lane and the shore just south of the Solan’s Camp area. He was identified as George Diboll (age-61) of Oakdale.

The search continued Sunday, March 13th with help from a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter from Fort Polk. Late in the day, the fishermen’s 18’ aluminum vessel was located and marked by a United Cajun Navy volunteer using his boat sonar/chartplotter electronic equipment.
Shortly before daylight, Monday, March 14th, Sabine Parish Sheriff Deputies, LA Wildlife Agents, and a United Cajun Navy volunteer met at Solan’s Camp to develop a plan of action.
The boat was sitting on the bottom in approximately 17’ of water between an island and a boat lane in the main part of the lake. A short time later, the Desoto Parish Fire District 1 Toledo Bend Search & Recovery Team arrived. The TBSR divers were able to attach large air bags to the vessel and bring it close to the surface.

The high winds and choppy lake conditions today made recovery efforts difficult and time-consuming. The boat was eventually towed to the Solan’s Camp boat launch by the Sabine Parish Sheriff’s Marine Unit with help from Louisiana Wildlife Agent vessels. The other fisherman’s body was located miles away late this afternoon near Holly Park Marina off Carters Ferry Road near Milam on the Texas side of the lake. He was identified as Marvin Parsons (age-61) of Lafayette.

This incident is under investigation by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife & Fisheries. Autopsies will be conducted on Diboll and Parsons to determine their exact causes of death. Sheriff Mitchell extends his thoughts and prayers to the victims’ family and friends. Sheriff Mitchell also expresses his extreme gratitude to everyone who was involved in the search and recovery efforts.”

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