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Jet Ski, WaveRunner, Personal Watercraft Accidents in California

 Jet Ski, WaveRunner, Personal Watercraft Accidents in CaliforniaInexperienced Jet Ski Riders

Personal watercraft, popularized by the Jet Ski and WaveRunners brands, are to the water what motorcycles are to the land.

Just like motorcycles, they can be dangerous in the hands of inexperienced operators or in situations where there are multiple riders and other watercraft such as boats.

About 4 p.m. on Sunday, August 18 in Carlsbad, a 39-year-old woman was killed when the Jet Ski she was riding on was struck by a 17-year-old driving another Jet Ski.

The driver of the Jet Ski she was riding on was not hurt, neither was the teenager. She suffered major injuries and was transported from Agua Hedionda Lagoon off Harrison Street to a hospital where she later died.

The incident remains under investigation by police, but drugs and or alcohol were not believed to be involved.

Meanwhile, over in Stanislaus County on June 23rd, 2019, two young inexperienced teenage girls ages 13 and 14 were riding Jet Skis at the Modesto Reservoir late Saturday afternoon when they crashed with a boat driven by a man suspected to be under the influence of alcohol.

One of the teens was airlifted to UC Davis Medical Center and the other by ambulance to the same hospital.

Indeed these personal watercraft riders were inexperienced young riders who may have been ill-prepared for water conditions.

The United States Coast Guard statistics show that most accidents involve operators who are between 11 and 20 years old.

Among people who own their own personal watercraft, only 18% were involved in accidents. It was the owner’s siblings (29%) or friends (53%) that accounted for the most collisions reported to the USCG.

There are some personal watercraft that are designed with a special key for new riders that limits the power output of the engine. The National Transportation Safety Board reports that roughly 84% of PWC accidents were caused by operators who had no boating safety education or instruction. In fact, some 73 percent of those involved in a collision had been riding less than an hour when their crash took place. Nearly half (48 percent) of those who were injured had never operated a personal watercraft or had only ridden one once before.

At the Carlsbad Lagoon where a woman died on Sunday, riders need only be 16 years old to operate a Jet Ski by themselves, but someone 18 years or older must rent it for them. The driver can be as young as 12 years old if someone who is at least 18 years old is riding on the back of the Jet Ski, according to the rental rules on Carlsbad Lagoon’s website.  The website also says “No experience is necessary, we will provide an orientation on how to operate the WaveRunner.”

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