LAKE HARTWELL, S.C. (WSPA) – In the wake of the tragedy on a Missouri lake, you may wonder what you’re supposed to do if you end up in the water with a sinking boat.
In 2017, a storm hit Kip and Stacey Burrell’s boat on Lake Hartwell and threw them both into the water.
Kip died while trying to keep his wife’s head above the water.
Duck Boats are not popular in South Carolina, but what happened in Missouri certainly has the attention of authorities who police the waters of Lake Hartwell.
7 News tagged along with the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources Friday earlier while conducting standard safety checks.
Lance Corporal Shawn Hanna said what happened in Missouri was tragic.
“I wasn’t there but I saw the weather conditions. It’s just one of those things you just pray never happens in South Carolina,” said Hanna.
Hanna has seen the worst in the 13 years he’s patrolled Lake Hartwell.
He’s seen tragedies resulting from both bad choices and bad weather.
“If you can see inclement weather coming the first thing you should do is put on that life jacket. Have them onboard and readily accessible. Go ahead and put it on and start heading for safe harbor,” he said.
If the worst happens while trying to get off the open water and rough waters cause your boat to capsize he said you need to stay calm.
It’s something that can be difficult to do after being thrown into the water.
Hanna said you should not attempt to swim to safety on a shore.
He advised staying close to the boat as it is the largest, closest means of keeping you afloat.
If it sinks, Hanna said, despite what you may have heard in the past, a sinking boat will not take you down with it.
“Try to stay with the boat. It’s the largest object out there and the best way we are going to find you if you’ve got a 16 foot boat upside down as opposed to a head bopping in the lake,” said Hanna.
Hanna said he can’t stress enough the importance of a life jacket.
Remember, in South Carolina the law doesn’t require anyone to wear a life jacket on a boat that’s over 16 feet, which Hanna said are most boats on any given lake.
However, the law requires the vests be on the boat and accessible.
Hanna said children should have life jackets on at all times, despite the law not requiring it.