BEAVER LAKE (KFSM) - Following a 14-year-old girl dying in a jet ski collision Thursday (June 11), park rangers want to remind boaters how they can stay safe on the water.
Park Ranger Alan Bland said most of the time, people operating jet skis haven't taken the required boater safety course and don't have the proper knowledge.
"They want to forget about all the rules, they don't see a double yellow line or slow or turn here and they get out there and they just what we call grip it and rip it and unfortunately there's mistakes," Bland said.
He said a person can be 12 years old or younger and operate a jet ski, as long as the other person on board is at least 21 and taken the class. If a person is between 12-15, the other rider has to be at least 18 and taken the class. He said a person has to be at least 16 and taken the class to operate the jet ski alone. Bland said the person has to have the boater safety card on them at all times.
"We do find someone who doesn't have that and it's an automatic citation," Bland said.
He said another big issue is drinking and boating. He said someone can get ticketed and fined, and possibly be charged with a BWI--- boating while intoxicated.
Sergeant Rusty Johnson with Arkansas Game and Fish said nearly half of all boating accidents involve alcohol.
"I take a lot of people to jail, a lot of us take a lot of people to jail for being intoxicated its .08 just like behind the wheel of a car," Johnson said.
He said other rules to remember are that life jackets are mandatory to wear, and all jet skis must have a fire extinguisher on board. He said the biggest safety mechanism on the craft is the kill switch, which must be attached to the driver at all times.
The boater safety courses are free to the public. More information can be found here.