Latest death highlights fatal potential of Ohio’s waterways, officials warn

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Boat capsized, one person dead at Hueston Woods State Park

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

While the cause of the latest fatal boating accident in the region is unknown, officals said the incident serves as a reminder that spending time in a watercraft can be potentially dangerous if the correct precautions are ignored.

There were 18 fatalities on Ohio waterways last year, the second highest in the last four years, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. There were 20 fatalities in 2017, 13 in 2015 and 12 in 2016, according to the ODNR.

Since 2015, there have been three fatalities on area waterways, according to the ODNR. Two people were killed on Caesar Creek Lake in Warren County in 2015, and one person was killed on the Great Miami River in Butler County last year.

The contributing factors in the Warren deaths were improper anchoring and the wake, and alcohol was blamed on the fatality in Butler, according to the ODNR.

Of the 63 fatalities in the state the last four years, not wearing or improperly wearing a life jacket was cited in 51, or 81 percent, of the accidents.

A Miamisburg man died after his boat capsized at Hueston Woods State Park on Tuesday, April 9, 2019. NICK GRAHAM / STAFF
A Miamisburg man died after his boat capsized at Hueston Woods State Park on Tuesday, April 9, 2019. NICK GRAHAM / STAFF

This statistic doesn’t surprise Pat Brown, boating law administrator for the ODNR. When his gives safety seminars, he tells boaters their watercrafts have no brakes or seat belts, and wearing a life jacket is the best way to prevent injuries.

He called wearing a life jacket the “No. 1 thing to save your life.”


Being safe while boating is about being prepared for any situation that might arise, he said. Many things that can go wrong actually are within your control.

Those include:

• Make sure your boat is in proper working order.

• Outfit your boat with the required safety equipment and know how to use it.

• Get a vessel safety check.

• Take a boating safety class.

• Be aware of the local navigational hazards.

• Check a weather forecast and decide to boat or not.

Boaters, he said, should have “a floater plan” in place even before they get on the water. This is especially important for anyone who’s boating alone. A written plan records where you are going and when you plan to return. It contains information that could prove useful if you do not check in at your estimated time of return, Brown said.

The plan also could contain the number of passengers, boat type, towing vehicle, trailer, trip information, and cell phone numbers.

“Nobody ever wants to be in an accident, but you have to be prepared,” Brown said.

This time of year, and in the fall, when the air temperature is warmer than the water temperature, Brown said boaters who accidentally enter the water have a higher risk of hypothermia.

On Tuesday, a boat capsized on Acton Lake at Hueston Woods State Park and Jerald Parlett, 65, of Miamisburg, was killed, according to the Preble County Sheriff’s Office.

Parlett and another man were in the boat when it capsized, sending both into the water, said Sheriff Mike Simpson.

Investigators believe Parlett might have suffered a medical emergency when he went into the water and became unresponsive, Simpson said. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Neither Parlett, nor the other man in the boat, were wearing life vests but they both had access to them in the boat, investigators said.

When Parlett and the other boater went into the water, two nearby fishermen went to help and were able to pull both men into their boat, said Simpson, who added without their assistance Parlett’s boating partner could have died.

Fatal boating accidents in Ohio

2015: 13

216: 12

2017: 20

2018: 18

SOURCE: Ohio Department of Natural Resources

Life jackets not worn or improperly worn in fatal accidents in Ohio

2015: 10

2016: 11

2017: 15

2018: 15

SOURCE: Ohio Department of Natural Resources