Sport fishermen Hunter Bland and Conner Young of the University of Florida Bass Fishing Team were almost seriously injured when they were thrown from their boat during a tournament in early 2017.
Now, Bland is sharing about their close call in a video PSA from the National Safe Boating Council.
Bland and his teammate took all the proper safety precautions, but were ejected from their boat while going approximately 55 mph due to a hydraulic steering part failure.
“I’ve been boating for my entire life, and never once did I think something like this could happen to me,” Bland said. “I want to make sure everyone knows what saved my life to try and help others. If it wasn’t for my engine cut-off device and my life jacket, I wouldn’t be here today.”
The PSA was produced at the Eckerd College Waterfront Program in St. Petersburg, Fla. and includes original footage from the boat incident captured by Bland’s GoPro action camera (Bland Brothers Films via Storyful). Watch and share the PSA at http://www.youtube.com/user/OutreachNSBC.
“As a boater, you have a responsibility to yourself, your passengers, other boaters, and anyone else who enjoys the water to be safe, courteous and respectful – and that includes always wearing a life jacket and using an engine cut-off device,” said Rachel Johnson, CAE, executive director of the National Safe Boating Council. The Council is the lead organization for the North American Safe Boating Campaign, a yearlong effort focused on boating safety.
“Hunter and Conner’s experience is a very important reminder why all boaters should always boat responsibly, as something could go wrong in an instant,” continued Johnson.
U.S. Coast Guard statistics show that drowning was the reported cause of death in more than three-fourths of recreational boating fatalities in 2016, and that 83 percent of those who drowned were not wearing life jackets.
The North American Safe Boating Campaign unites the efforts of a wide variety of boating safety advocates and is produced under a grant from the Sports Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund, administered by the U.S. Coast Guard.
For more information and to follow the campaign on social media, please visit www.safeboatingcampaign.com.