Spotlight on Boating Safety After Accident on Lake Mendota

By: Dana Brueck
By: Dana Brueck

A 17-year-old man was in critical condition Friday evening at UW Hospital after being hit in the head by his boat's anchor.

"I've been boating since I was a baby," boater Lisa Frestedt says.

But Frestedt knows the tranquil water of Lake Mendota, the blue skies above can mask the potential danger.

She says, "when we went out it was gorgeous like this; when we came back down, there was a storm."

The family weathered that storm by staying under a bridge until it passed.

"We tried to tell the children it was an adventure," Frestedt says.

But the Frestedts do not take safety lightly.

"Right now, they always ask, ‘Where's my life jacket, Mommy? I need to put it on,’" Frestedt says of her two young children.

Frestedt understands that one day her children will head out here without her.

Sergeant Dave Ritter says yesterday afternoon a 17-year-old man took out his parents' boat with teenaged friends when tragedy struck.

Investigators believe Trevor Knight took off without lifting his anchor.

Ritter says the anchor then hit Knight, an experienced boater, in the head.

"I've never had anything like this before," Ritter says.

Ritter says the bay's shallow water is popular with boaters who come here to swim. He says the teens were leaving this area when the accident happened.

"I don't have any idea if they anchored from bow or stern, I don't know," Ritter says.

Ritter says accidents that happen from improper anchoring usually start at the stern.

"As you can see it's wavy, if a boat comes by and causes a wake, and you're anchored from stern, water come over and swamp the boat," Ritter says.

But he says most accidents out here come from people not yielding to other boaters. He reminds boaters to give others a break.

"If someone doesn't give you right of way, don't insist on it. Give it to them," he says.
Much like you give your passengers a life jacket .

Ritter says boaters 16 years old and up do not need a boater safety course to operate a motorboat.

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