- Associated Press - Sunday, May 29, 2016

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) - Less than a day after a man died in an accident on Lake Tuscaloosa, the city council was raising awareness about boating safety.

City officials spoke on the importance of boating safety after the death of Robert David Reagan on May 23, the Tuscaloosa News (https://bit.ly/1XVozMZ) reported. Reagan, 63, was not wearing a life jacket when the accident occurred.

City Council President Harrison Taylor, in the absence of Mayor Walter Maddox, presented a proclamation Tuesday to the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary’s Tuscaloosa branch to commemorate National Boating Safety Week. The week is meant to underline the importance of boating safety.

“For the council and the mayor to recognize the importance of this just gives it more emphasis for people to wear that life jacket,” said Jerry Miller, public affairs officer for the local Coast Guard branch. “Not only wear it, but make sure it properly fits (and) have the safety equipment you need on that boat - very, very critical.

The Alabama Law Enforcement Agency’s Marine Patrol Division has started an investigation into the events surrounding the accident that saw another man, Scott Cooper Turner, 38, injured.

I’m told there weren’t any life jackets being worn,” Miller said, “and, unfortunately, we hear that story over and over again”

The accident happened on the lake near Country Club Drive and the Alabama Highway 69 North bridge that spans the lake.

Reagan was driving the bass boat that hit a sea wall shortly after 10 p.m. Monday, said ALEA officials have said.

Miller is warning residents that drownings can occur even without a collision or accident.

“You might be surprised to know that there’s fatalities that happen at the dock - people fall off the dock, fall off and drown - because they’re not wearing a life jacket,” Miller said. “And you’ll notice, if you go to a boat ramp, first thing people do is that life jacket - if they’re even wearing it - comes right off as they go on the dock.”

Miller referenced Coast Guard statistics that indicated most fatalities occur on the water because of a lack of life jackets or life preservers.

Sometimes, having a life jacket isn’t enough.

“The little ones are at risk, and the reason is they’ll have an adult life jacket put on them, it doesn’t fit - they go right in the water and it comes right off,” Miller said.


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