Four men were fishing on July 3, 2011, on a 14-foot aluminum johnboat off Vaidens Pond Road. The Virginia Gazette reported how a pleasure trip tuned into a nightmare in seconds as the boat capsized when 36-year-old Justino Alfonso Rojas Cortes "apparently stood up or shifted his weight in the boat."
Cortes then fell in the water, and, according to emergency workers, none of the men on the boat could swim and none of them were wearing life vests. Consequently, Cortes drowned in the reservoir in about 10 feet of water.
Recently our experienced Virginia personal injury attorneys reported on how the number of boating deaths on waterways in the state fell in 2010. But the picture may prove to be less hopeful in 2011. Tthe Daily Press recently reported on a spate of boating accidents and other drownings on our waterways including at Virginia Beach and on the James River. In May a pleasure boat capsized in the James River at Newport News, VA, sending 10 people into the water. The accident claimed the lives of two NASA research assistants.
Now that summer has arrived, far more people are getting onto the waterways of Southeastern Virginia since Norfolk, Portsmouth, Chesapeake, Hampton, and Newport News all have extensive waterfront on the Chesapeake Bay; the James River and the Lynnhaven River. Even in the present recession visitors and locals alike are still spending these summer days out on their boats, skiffs, jet skis, yachts and many other marine craft.
It's vital that boaters take basic precautions and they don't get much more basic than wearing a life vest. Knowledge of basic rules for boating along with compliance with necessary standards on safety such as always carrying lifejackets onboard can be a critical step in accident prevention. Had the boaters worn life vests on this fishing trip near Lanexa, the outcome would likely not have been so tragic.