boating

Louisiana Safe Boating Week Set For May 19-25

Release Date: 05/17/2012

Louisiana is once again participating in the national "Safe Boating Week" that is scheduled for May 19-25 and signifies the beginning of the spring and summer boating season.

The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) will again be reminding all boaters to be safe, responsible and knowledgeable while on the water during this safe boating week.  Safe Boating Week is a time for all boaters to inspect their vessels to ensure that all required safety equipment is on board and that vessels are in good working condition.

LDWF Enforcement Division agents will be out in full force as always during the week to perform boating safety checks and driving or operating a vessel while intoxicated (DWI) patrols.  Each vessel should have enough personal flotation devices (PFD) on board for all occupants and a sober operator.

"Personal flotation devices are made to be worn and not sit in a vessel storage compartment.  Even if you consider yourself to be a strong swimmer, we (LDWF) still encourage everyone on a boat to wear a personal flotation device whenever the boat is in motion," said LDWF Boating Safety Officer Capt. Rachel Zechenelly.  “A personal flotation device on a boat should be treated the same as a seatbelt in a car, because they are both easy to use and are proven to save lives."

LDWF boating incident statistics indicate that 19 out of the 36 boating fatalities in 2011 were drownings that could have been prevented if the person was wearing a PFD.  LDWF regulations state that anyone 16 years of age and younger must wear a PFD while underway in vessels less than 26 foot long.  For more boating and PFD regulations, please visit www.wlf.louisiana.gov/boating.

Agents issued 108 DWIs on the water last year to operators of vessels.  Alcohol consumption impairs a boater's judgment, balance, vision and reaction time.  Alcohol also increases fatigue and susceptibility to hypothermia.  Intensifying the effects of alcohol are sun, wind, noise, vibration and movement, which are all common to boating activities.

The penalties for DWI on the water are the same as on the road.  Anyone cited for a DWI on the water or on the road will lose his or her driver's license and boating privileges for the specified time ordered by the judge in the case.  Also, each offense of operating a vehicle or vessel while intoxicated counts toward the total number of DWI crimes whether they happened on the water or road.

In Louisiana a DWI can be issued to anyone operating a moving vessel or vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration of .08 or higher.  First offense DWI on the water or on the road carries a $300 to $1,000 fine and up to six months in jail.  Second offense DWI brings a $750 to $1,000 fine and between 30 days and six months in jail.  Third offense DWI carries a $5,000 fine and between one and five years in jail.  Again, every DWI offense is also subject to a suspension of driving a vehicle and operating a boat privileges.

"One of the best parts of our job is to see people utilize Louisiana's waterways for recreation in accordance to the boating safety regulations and return home safely to loved ones.  However, the worst part of our job is to search for deceased bodies and notify family members of their loss," said LDWF Lt. Col. Jeff Mayne, the State Boating Law Administrator.  "The two ways to make boating safe, fun and a memorable experience is to have a sober operator and to have everyone wear a personal flotation device when the vessel is underway."

LDWF also wants to remind anybody born after Jan. 1, 1984 that they are required to successfully complete a National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA) boating education course to operate a motorboat over 10 horsepower.  LDWF offers these classes free of charge statewide.  For a list of courses, please visit www.wlf.louisiana.gov/boating/courses.

*Media - To schedule a boating safety ride along for a story, please contact Adam Einck at 225-765-2465 or aeinck@wlf.la.gov.

Video

Joint Effort Leads To Successful Coordinated Search and Rescue Mission

Release Date: 11/23/2010

Personnel with the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) Enforcement Division, U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) and Cameron Parish Sheriff's Office helped coordinate and rescue a missing Kaplan boater on Nov. 18 in Cameron Parish.

Jacob Blanchard, 31, left the Lakeside public boat launch at approximately 7:30 a.m. and headed to a camp near the Old Intracoastal Waterway near Grand Lake.  After being reported as on overdue boater, LDWF agents received information mid afternoon of Blanchard's potential whereabouts from the Cameron Parish Sheriff’s Office.

LDWF quickly dispatched eight agents and five boats to the area, but were hampered with strong north winds, high seas and shallow water.  Since the water was making a boat rescue difficult and agents were concerned for the missing person not being found with temperatures expected to fall to low 50s, LDWF requested a USCG helicopter to assist with the rescue.

LDWF agents provided the USCG helicopter with GPS coordinates and an outlined grid description for a specific area to search.  The helicopter arrived in the Grand Lake area at 6 p.m. and began searching the east side of Grand Lake and the Old Intracoastal Waterway.

At approximately 6:30 p.m. the helicopter located a subject flashing a light on the south bank of Grand Lake near Betty Lake in Cameron Parish.  The helicopter was able to air lift the victim from his boat to the helicopter and fly Blanchard to Chennault Air Field in Lake Charles.

Blanchard said he ran out of gas on his trip across Grand Lake and due to high seas had drifted to the south bank obscured behind a rock dam.

"The smooth coordination between our department, the Cameron Parish Sheriff’s Office, Coast Guard and the subject's family helped find and retrieve this young man very quickly," said Col. Winton Vidrine, head of LDWF's Enforcement Division.  "If he would have had to spend the night in the cold conditions, then hypothermia could have been a very real possibility."

For more information, contact Captain Jubal Marceaux at 337-491-2580 or jmarceaux@wlf.la.gov.
 

Bridge City Man Sentenced On Felony Conviction

Release Date: 11/04/2010

A Bridge City man pled guilty to a felony conviction in Jefferson Parish on Nov. 4 for stealing a boat.

Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) Enforcement Division agents arrested Michael Joseph Higgerson, 25, on April 25, 2010 after being found to be in possession of a boat that was reported stolen in Orleans Parish in late 2009.

24th Judicial Court Judge Erin Shirer Kovach sentenced Higgerson to five years imprisonment at hard labor with three suspended, three years of active probation and 40 hours of community service.

Agents initially stopped Higginson for a standard safe boating check when they found him to be in possession of the reportedly stolen 19 foot Chaparral boat with motor. Agents seized the boat and trailer and returned them to the legal owner.

The prosecuting Assisting District Attorney for the case was Matthew Clausen.

The investigating agents in the case were Sgt. Jason Russo and Cadet Terrance Hicks of LDWF. Detective Nick Vega of the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office assisted the agents with the forensic evidence in the case.

For more information, contact Captain Stephen McManus at 504-284-2023 or smcmanus@wlf.la.gov.

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L.D.W.F. Agents Rescue Missing Father And Two Sons

Release Date: 11/03/2010

Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) Enforcement Division agents rescued a missing father and his two sons on Nov. 3 in Union Parish.

Agents received a call from the Union Parish Sheriff's Office shortly after 9 p.m. on Nov. 2 about Timothy Thomas, 36, and his two sons, age 7 and 10, who hadn't returned from a deer-scouting trip in D'arbonne National Refuge.  The man and his two sons left the Holland's Bluff boat launch around 2 p.m. on Nov. 2.

LDWF agents found Thomas and his two sons shortly after midnight on Nov. 3 on the bank of Bayou D'arbonne about five miles from the Holland's Bluff boat launch.

Agents transported the family back to the Joe Bob's landing where medical personnel were already standing by.  Everyone was treated for mild dehydration and hypothermia and released.

"These agents performed a search and rescue mission under very adverse conditions and successfully returned a man and his two sons to safety.  The rainy, foggy and nighttime conditions made it very difficult to traverse the waterway and to find the lost party, but these agents were able to persevere," said Col. Winton Vidrine, head of LDWF's Enforcement Division.  "This is a very fortunate event as now the man and his two sons can reunite with the rest of the family and move forward with a good story to tell."

Agents participating in the search and rescue were Sgt. Lane Kincaid, Agent Scott Jeansonne, Agent Mike Jones, Agents Scott Bullitt, Lt. Rick Owens, Sgt. Duane Taylor, Agent David Harrell and Scott Bullitt.  The Union Parish Sheriff's Office also participated in the search.

For more information, contact Adam Einck at 225-765-2465 or aeinck@wlf.la.gov.

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L.D.W.F. Agents Rescue Boaters in Vermilion Bay

Release Date: 10/28/2010

Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) Enforcement Division agents rescued two boaters this morning, Oct. 28, from the rough waters of Vermilion Bay in St. Mary Parish.

Responding to a 911 call around 7:30 a.m., LDWF Senior Agents Jason Romero and David Ducote found Rocky Romero, 45, and Willie Reaux, 52, both of New Iberia, clinging to a wharf piling after their 17-foot vessel had capsized and sank.

Agents threw a personal flotation device (PFD) connected to a rope to one of the men and were able to pull the man to their 32-foot whaler. Assisting the agents was a shrimp boat and its crew as they were able to pull the other man to their boat. Both men were wearing their PFDs, which helped them keep afloat as help arrived.

"Our agents are highly trained and have the equipment necessary for search and rescue missions. These two agents with assistance from the public did a great job in responding as fast as possible and getting the two men out of the water and back to shore," said Col. Winton Vidrine, head of LDWF's Enforcement Division. "The men that were rescued should also be congratulated as they did the right thing by notifying 911 before it was too late and wearing their lifejackets."

Agents and the local shrimp boat transported the men to Cypremort Point where Emergency Medical Specialists were waiting. The men were treated for minor injuries and released. LDWF agents will conduct a boating incident investigation to determine why the vessel capsized and sank.

For more information, contact Adam Einck at 225-765-2465 or aeinck@wlf.la.gov.

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First Tour Du Teche Canoe Race to be Held Sept. 17-19

Release Date: 09/02/2010

 

The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) Enforcement Division hasapproved a marine event permit for the upcoming Tour du Teche canoe race from Sept. 17-19.

The 130-mile race on Bayou Techewill begin at Port Barre on Sept. 17 at 8 a.m. with a finish line at Patterson.  There will be a 60-hour cutoff to finish this inaugural race.

To register for the race and more information on fees, the mandatory meeting on Sept. 16 and rules, please visit www.techeproject.com/tour-du-teche.html.

The Tour du Teche is a part of the Teach Ecology, Culture and History Education (TECHE) Project that originated in Summer 2009 in St. Landry Parish.  The project aims to make Bayou Teche a healthier waterway for fishing, kayaking, canoeing, boating, tubing and swimming.

"The department was happy to issue a marine event permit for the inaugural Tour du Teche canoe race since it corresponds with the department's mission to conserve and protect the state's natural resources and met the permit approval guidelines," said Lt. Col. Jeff Mayne.  "We hope this canoe race really catches on and helps improve the recreational and aesthetic qualities of the Bayou Teche watershed in the future."

The department issues marine event permits for any organized event held on the water that introduces extra or unusual safety hazards on navigable waterways.  Permit forms can be found at www.wlf.louisiana.gov/permits and must be turned in to the department at least 30 days prior to any event.

According to the Teche Project Web site, "One goal of the TECHE Project and Tour du Teche is to educate people about water quality and the need for nonpoint source pollution prevention and reduction.  Discovery can take place with an interactive, hands-on experience on and along Bayou Teche.  Tour du Teche will work with the National Park Service, parishes and towns to identify public access needs and help implement improvement activities.  Education kiosks will be built to provide self-directed education to boaters and paddlers about water quality, preventing non-point source pollution, native flora and birds, culture, history as well as boater safety information for children and adults."

For more information, contact Adam Einck at 225-765-2465 or aeinck@wlf.la.gov.

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