Katie Yale was killed over Labor Day weekend when an inner tube she was riding on was struck by a personal watercraft.
MIAMI, Florida (AP) - Tubing can be a dangerous water sport that leads to accidents on the water, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said Tuesday in a message to boaters to be safe while towing passengers on the inflatable tubes.
The popular boating item - known as inner tubes, towables or inflatable tubes - has led to several recent accidents across the state, the commission said in a statement, adding that passengers on tubes have crashed into docks, channel markers or even other boats. Last year, five people were injured and two were killed in these types of accidents.
And just this past Labor Day weekend, a 15-year-old Seminole girl was killed when a personal watercraft crashed into her as her tube was being towed by a boat.
Boaters can take safety precautions to keep those tubing safe.
"When you are operating a boat that is towing passengers on a tube or something similar, their fate is in your hands," said Maj. Richard Moore, head of the commission's Boating and Waterways Section. "They are not able to steer themselves in a safe direction and must rely on you to keep them safe. The main safety consideration is keeping them away from all other objects."
Although there isn't a required specific distance to keep away from fixed objects or other boats, the commission said operators should avoid pulling the tuber close enough to anything it can crash into.
One good rule of thumb is: "Twice the line should be fine," or keep the boat at least two lengths of the towline away from all objects.
Tubers should also wear a life jacket, but not the inflatable kinds. Another tip is for there to be a "spotter" on the boat, or another person besides the driver to monitor the tuber and alert the driver of any issues.