Pioneer Editorial: Remember to stay safe
Life on or near the water is one of the drawing powers of Bemidji and the surrounding area. But several incidents and news items the past few weeks remind us that living and recreating on water can also be dangerous. We send our thoughts the way ...
Life on or near the water is one of the drawing powers of Bemidji and the surrounding area.
But several incidents and news items the past few weeks remind us that living and recreating on water can also be dangerous.
We send our thoughts the way of Joe Hennen and his family. Hennen, 28, was injured in a freak swimming accident Aug. 1 on Lake Bemidji. He was immediately taken to a hospital in Minneapolis, where he underwent stabilization surgery, after he suffered a several spinal injury jumping from a dock. It’s dock he’s jumped from many times, his family said, but he doesn’t remember exactly what happened and friends with Hennen did not see the accident. The initial prognosis from doctors, his family said, is no movement in the lower body, but physical therapy has just started. It will be a long road ahead, but judging by comments from his family and friends, it’s a road Hennen is prepared for. We wish him all the best in his recovery.
And although not in our area, we saw the news Sunday of a boating accident on Devils Lake in North Dakota that took a young Minnesota woman’s life. April Stenger, 26, of Detroit Lakes, died after a boat she was in struck a tree sticking out of the lake early Sunday. Four others in the boat were injured.
On July 4, on Cass Lake, an Eden Prairie woman died after being thrown from a boat. A Minnetonka man was later arrested on boating while driving charges. The woman was not wearing a life jacket and was unresponsive when brought to shore.
Although it’s mid-August and boating season is closer to the end than the beginning or middle, it’s not too late to remind ourselves of the top five basic safe boating rules, courtesy of the DNR:
1. Wear your life jacket: And make sure children wear theirs.
2. Stay sober: Booze and boating don’t mix. Alcohol is the No. 1 factor in boating fatalities.
3. Tell a friend: Tell someone where you’re going and when you will be back. If you’re not back, they should call 911. Bring a phone or VHF radio.
4. Be weather aware: Don’t let a storm sneak up on you; delay your trip or head to shore. Go slow in rough water to avoid capsizing.
5. Get a clue: Understand your boat; keep your eyes peeled for danger; stay seated and low in the boat so you don’t fall overboard; take a boating safety course.
In 2014, there were 14 boating fatalities and 29 non-boating drownings in state waters, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
The allure of the region’s rivers and lakes is unmistakable. But we must always respect the water and that safety is our responsibility. Sure, there will be freak accidents, such as what apparently happened to Hennen, but the more we can minimize risks, the chances of those accidents are reduced.
That allure of Minnesota’s lakes and rivers also is fueling Hennen’s recovery, his family said on the web: “Although the road ahead is long we know it will eventually lead him back to where he is happiest, on the lake.”