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The state of Louisiana has issued a proclamation that recognizes May 16-22 as “Safe Boating Week” in Louisiana, which 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. LDWF regulations also 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.
Alcohol use is another leading cause of boating crash incidents and fatalities on the water. Alcohol consumption impairs a boater's judgment, balance, vision and reaction time. 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.
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.
Studies have shown that states with a mandatory boating education program have fewer boating incidents that result in fatalities than states that have no boating education program. States with a boating education program for more than 20 years had 3.67 fatalities per 100,000 registered boats, and states with no boating education program had 6.61 fatalities per 100,000 boats.
LDWF initiated the state's boating education program in 2003 and has certified over 75,000 boaters during that time. Louisiana has lowered the number of fatalities per 100,000 registered boats from 12 in 2008 to 4.9 in 2013 and 5.9 in 2014.
In 2014 Louisiana reported 18 boating fatalities, which is the second lowest number ever recorded. In 2013 Louisiana reported 15 fatalities, which was the record low for boating fatalities ever recorded. So far in 2015 Louisiana has reported nine fatalities.
Authorities saved a three year old boy from drowning in a swimming pool at a residence on the Amite River Diversion Canal in Livingston Parish on May 10.
Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) Enforcement Division agents Lt. Louis Burnett and Senior Agent Michael Marques Jr. were on vessel patrol around 5 p.m. on the Diversion Canal when they were flagged down by a woman from a dock near her residence on Home Port Road. The woman told them that a three year old boy was found face down in her pool a few minutes ago.
Senior Agent Marques Jr. raced to the pool about 25 yards from the dock and found the child lying on the ground next to the pool not breathing. Marques Jr. put his hand on the child’s chest and felt the heart beating. He then cleared the airway of the child by performing the head-tilt, chin-lift maneuver. The child then let out a gasp of air that prompted Marques Jr. to lay the child on his side to promote more breathing.
While Marques Jr. was performing first responder aid to the child, Lt. Burnett was radioing for paramedics to the scene and securing the vessel.
Marques Jr. and Lt. Burnett were able to keep the child breathing until some volunteers from the Fifth Ward Fire Department showed up with oxygen for the child. The LDWF agents and Fire Department personnel were able to keep the child breathing on oxygen until Acadian Ambulance paramedics arrived shortly thereafter. The child was then airlifted to Our Lady of the Lake Hospital in Baton Rouge. The child was admitted into the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit and is expected to make a full recovery.
“Everybody involved did a great job to keep this child alive,” said Col. Joey Broussard, head of the LDWF Enforcement Division. “Senior Agent Marques’ efforts were heroic and the fact he acted so quickly probably saved the child’s life.”
All LDWF agents are trained and certified in first responder training which includes cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) every year.
According to an adult male, he turned his back on the child briefly while gathering some fishing poles. When he was finished he then found the child face down in the swimming pool and immediately retrieved the boy’s body. He then attempted CPR before Marques Jr. arrived on the scene.
A couple from New Orleans pleaded guilty in Orleans Parish District Court for recreational fishing license fraud on May 11.
Judge Tracey Flemings-Davillier sentenced Derwin Hill, 60, and Diana Hill, 60, to each pay a $1,500 fine, two years of jail suspended and two years of probation.
Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Enforcement Division agents arrested the couple on Feb. 27 for filing false public records for their roles in forging a recreational fishing license in order to falsely make a claim after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
The LDWF Licensing Section notified agents of the Hill’s attempt to forge a recreational license. During the investigation, agents learned that Diana allegedly forged a 2011-12 fishing license purchased by Derwin to reflect a 2010-11 recreational fishing license so that they could make a claim with the Gulf Coast Claims Facility and Deepwater Horizon Settlement Program.
Agents were able to gather the Hill’s claim information from the National Center for Disaster Fraud. Agents leaned that the Hill’s made two separate claims with the altered fishing license. The claim with Gulf Coast Claims Facility was filed on Oct. 31, 2011 for lost earnings in the fishing industry. Derwin stated the lost total earnings totaled $19,500 in the two claims.
Derwin also filed a subsistence claim with Deepwater Horizon Settlement Program on Oct 24, 2012 for not being able to fish due to the oil spill.
On Jan. 8, 2013, agents met with the Hill’s to interview them about the fraudulently altered fishing license and claim. During the interview, Diana stated that she changed the dates on the fishing license.
The Hill’s did not receive any money from the claims due to the fraudulent nature of the fishing license used for the claim.
Agents participating in the case were Sgt. Edward Ridgel and Senior Agent Ronnie Engelhard. Assistant District Attorney Jeff Hall prosecuted the case.
Search and rescue crews found the body of a River Ridge man around 1:30 p.m. today, May 9 following a single boat incident in Rattlesnake Bayou in Plaqumines Parish.
Search crews from the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries and the Plaquemines Parish Sheriff’s Office recovered the body of Gary Folks, 61, near where he entered the water after getting ejected from his vessel.
The boating incident occurred around 9 a.m. in Rattlesnake Bayou about 12 miles south of Happy Jack. According to the surviving passenger the two men were cruising in Rattlesnake Bayou when Folks lost steering control and the boat took a violent turn ejecting both men into the water. The passenger was able to get away from the unmanned circling boat and make it to shore. He never saw what happened to Folks.
The passenger was able to make it to shore where he flagged down a passing boater and then called for help around 9:20 a.m.. The search crews were able to recover the boat that eventually grounded itself into the bank of the bayou.
LDWF will be the lead investigative agency for this boating incident. Neither man was wearing a personal flotation device when they were ejected into the water. Folks’ body was turned over to the Plaquemines Parish Coroner’s Office to determine the official cause of death.
Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) Enforcement Division agents recovered the body of a Denham Springs man this morning, May 7, near the Bayou Sorrell locks in the Intracoastal Canal in Iberville Parish.
LDWF agents along with the Iberville Parish Sheriff's Office (IPSO) and the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office began searching for James L. Haley, 61, on May 1 around 10:30 p.m.
Haley’s body was found around 10:15 a.m. about 12 miles south of Plaquemine and 9 miles downstream from where he fell from a houseboat in Grand River.
According to eyewitnesses Haley stepped off a houseboat and slipped while attempting to return to his own vessel. Haley fell into the water and surfaced two times and then disappeared.
LDWF will be the lead investigative agency for this boating incident. Haley’s body was turned over to the Iberville Parish Coroner’s Office to determine an official cause of death.