In Hampton Roads we take the water for granted. We are sounded by bodies of water be it the Elizabeth River, the James River, Hampton Roads or the waters off Hampton or Virginia Beach.
Not everyone who goes out on the water realizes the serious potential for accidents. Jet skis, also known as personal water craft, see the highest accident rate because they are fast and powerful but potentially unstable. In 2014, the only boating fatality in Hampton Roads involved a jet ski.
Jodi Gidley, 49, an executive with Virginia Natural Gas, was killed when her jet ski exploded as she started it up in Virginia Beach.
Last month Christopher Anthony Joseph of Virginia, a 45-year-old man from Virginia, was killed in a jet ski collision in the Bogue Sound in North Carolina.
It can be difficult to predict tragic accidents like these. However, not everyone who rides a jet ski takes appropriate precautions such as wearing a life jacket.
Each state has its own maritime laws regarding boat and personal water craft safety that people going out on jet skis should be aware of.
Personal watercraft (PWC) regulations are outlined by Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries. Here are some rules related to jet skis in Virginia.
It is unlawful for any person to operate a PWC, or the owner or any person having control to authorize or knowingly permit a person to operate a PWC, unless the operator is at least 16 years old. Any person age 14 or 15 may operate a PWC but only if they have successfully completed an approved boating education safety course, carry proof of completing the course, and can demonstrate this proof upon request by a law enforcement officer.
It is unlawful to operate a jet ski unless the operator, each rider and anyone being towed by a PWC is wearing a Type I, II, III, or V USCG approved life jacket. Inflatable life jackets are prohibited on jet skis.
If the PWC is equipped with a lanyard-type engine cut-off switch, the operator must attach it to his person, clothing, or life jacket.
It is unlawful to operate a PWC after sunset or before sunrise.
It is unlawful to operate a PWC while carrying more passengers than the vessel was intended for.
Speeding or weaving a PWC in a dangerous manner can lead a jet ski rider to be charged with reckless operation.
You should know the capabilities of your personal watercraft and never speed or operate it after drinking alcohol. If you have been hurt on the water or have lost a loved one in a jet skiing accident, call Cooper Hurley Injury Lawyers at 757.455.0077.