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snagel
01-18-2009, 08:38
Just thought I would pass along a copy of a letter I drafted and sent to the Directors Office at the State Water Patrol in Missouri.



Dear Sir or Madam:

My name is Steve Nagel and I enjoy scuba diving in many of the Missouri waterways. Recently, a horrific accident occurred to one of my fellow divers, Rob Murphy, in Florida. Rob was within 10 feet of his displayed dive flag on the surface of the water and was struck by a passing boat. Rob was severely injured and ultimately lost both of his legs due to this terrible accident.

I am writing you to ask for help in increasing awareness of our current laws as it relates to Dive Flags. As I understand it, current law states that a Dive Flag is required to be displayed when there are divers in the water. Additionally, this law requires all boats and watercrafts to stay a minimum of 150 feet away from a Dive Flag.

I believe the law is just, but the respect of the law may be a little relaxed. I have personally witnessed on multiple occasions boats driving within the 150’ mandated distance. Even more disturbing, I have witnessed time-and-time again, those operating PWC such as Jet Skies, using Dive Flags as a turn around point or engaged in the practice of “zigzagging” around the dive flags. Those that engage in this type of activity must not understand the severity of danger they are placing on others that are in the water. In fact, there is a common debate amongst scuba divers about displaying dive flags for personal safety reasons. Some say they do not display them because they only entice boaters to drive up to them.

I truly believe that everybody – boaters, fisherman, and scuba divers, can safely enjoy all the waterways if we respect each other’s rights to the water. We have a defined law concerning the use of dive flags, but in my opinion and many others, not respected. Part of the problem may be with education. Although, the law is defined in the Boater Safety Regulations, many are not aware of it. My guess is that many that operate boats and PWC, may not know what a dive flag looks like and/or what it means. Because of the tragic incident involving Rob, there is a grass-roots initiative to increase awareness.

Spring will be here before we know it. With the warmer weather, the lakes and rivers will be full of those enjoying one of Missouri’s greatest attractions and forms of revenue. All I ask is that we all work together to increase Dive Flag Awareness. Many are not aware that Missouri has a strong Dive Community. Because of that, it is imperative that we all work together to ensure the safety of everybody. I would like to see a higher priority given to the enforcement of the Dive Flag Regulations. This is not to say that enforcement is “turning a blind eye”. I completely understand that enforcement personnel cannot be everywhere all the time and I’m sure that egregious acts are being addressed. All I’m asking is that enforcement be “on the lookout” for violations and act appropriately. Once everybody understands that violations against Dive Flag use will not be tolerated, it becomes important and respected.

Thank you for your consideration and understanding,



Steven R. Nagel

Splitlip
01-18-2009, 08:52
Great job Steve.
Edit:
Problem with my email right now.

What an impact this tragedy has had on the entire community. It should offer some comfort to Rob and his family.

JCAT
01-18-2009, 09:01
Looking good, I am working on one similar for our DNR geared toward the lakes and PWCs. Luckily, our local DNR guys and girls are divers as well.

I've seen them go after drunken jetski riders for getting too close to us. Last year, one fool actually tried to out run the twin engine DNR boat. <snicker>

Splitlip
01-18-2009, 09:17
PM'd JCAT and snagel.

skdvr
01-18-2009, 09:39
Looks great... I was thinking about doing the same things after reading the thread about Rob, and about what all the divers in Fl are doing to help make boaters aware.

I was diving last year at Tablerock at Breezy Point. My buddy and I had just gotten out of the water when another boat of divers showed up to get in the water. My buddy and I were still anchored putting gear away and enjoying a bit of the sun, and relaxing before we motored on to the next dive spot. The other divers had already gotten into the water and had a dive flag in tow. There were several boats in the area dropping people off to jump the cliffs there, and one boat decided to motor over by the dive flag and look down at the bubbles:zx11pissed:. Well my buddy and I started yelling at the other boat to get their attention, after a min or two someone finally looked up at us and we got them to come over. We politely explained to them what the dive flag meant and why they were supposed to be the distance away from it that they were. By the way this was a rented pontoon. They agreed that what they did was wrong and did not think about the fact that they have no idea how deep the divers where, and did not think about emergency's where someone may need to surface. They said that they would not do that again.

I think that a little awareness can go a long way. What I would hope happened is that those people told some of their friends about what happend and made atleast a few others aware. If we could organize something similar to what they did in Fl at boat docks/ramps, just handing out flyers, I think that it could go a long way to help educate people....

Phil

Splitlip
01-18-2009, 10:14
Steve:

Here is the flyer. I could only get my hands on a B/W copy for now.

snagel
01-18-2009, 11:02
Thanks Split,

This gives me something to work from. The thought is to put something together and get it out to as many marinas and dock (bulletin boards) as possible and Phil, yes, I'm up for handing out at boat docks and such.

Snagel

mm2002
01-18-2009, 20:20
I just now read about the accident. What a tragic deal. I'm all about the dive flag awareness thing. I also think everyone should have to have a license to get on the water in any type of watercraft. Anybody can run out and rent a boat without any prerequisites at all. Makes no sense to me.

Splitlip
01-18-2009, 20:35
I just now read about the accident. What a tragic deal. I'm all about the dive flag awareness thing. I also think everyone should have to have a license to get on the water in any type of watercraft. Anybody can run out and rent a boat without any prerequisites at all. Makes no sense to me.

Stupid, is it not?

There has actually been a lot of reaction from the folks here. Gave me a warm and fuzzy feeling (not like you are thinking) when snagel and JCAT took up the standard.
I turmed a few people on to this forum today when I explained about their posts. They were happy that folks so far away are taking an interest. It is in all our best interests of course although Rob is the one in pain now.

For me, today, I distributed petitions for support of "Dive Flag Awareness Weekend" in FLA

(slipped one in when I got to BHB. Had 900# in one of my cylinders :).)

snagel
01-20-2009, 17:37
I got an answer to my letter:

I share your concern and did here about the incident in Florida. My
condolences on your friend. I appreciate you bringing the issue to our
attention. When you are experiencing the problems you spoke of in the
message please call our office to have an officer respond.

On the education side we do make sure to cover the subject and feel it
is important enough to include the identification of a dive flag as one
of the test questions when we teach our certified programs.

Sgt. Jerry Callahan
Director of Public Information / Legislative Liaison
Missouri State Water Patrol
573-751-3333

mm2002
01-20-2009, 19:43
I got an answer to my letter:

I share your concern and did here about the incident in Florida. My
condolences on your friend. I appreciate you bringing the issue to our
attention. When you are experiencing the problems you spoke of in the
message please call our office to have an officer respond.

On the education side we do make sure to cover the subject and feel it
is important enough to include the identification of a dive flag as one
of the test questions when we teach our certified programs.

Sgt. Jerry Callahan
Director of Public Information / Legislative Liaison
Missouri State Water Patrol
573-751-3333


So, what "certified programs" is he speaking of? Yeah sure, if you're getting your boat captains license, or happen to be one of few that actually take one of their boating safety courses, you'll learn that stuff. Problem is, no "certification programs" are required to drive a boat. Any tourist can go to any marina and rent a boat for the day. All you need is $200 and a cooler of beer. Sad (and very scary).

Splitlip
01-20-2009, 20:42
I got an answer to my letter:

I share your concern and did here about the incident in Florida. My
condolences on your friend. I appreciate you bringing the issue to our
attention. When you are experiencing the problems you spoke of in the
message please call our office to have an officer respond.

On the education side we do make sure to cover the subject and feel it
is important enough to include the identification of a dive flag as one
of the test questions when we teach our certified programs.

Sgt. Jerry Callahan
Director of Public Information / Legislative Liaison
Missouri State Water Patrol
573-751-3333


So, what "certified programs" is he speaking of? Yeah sure, if you're getting your boat captains license, or happen to be one of few that actually take one of their boating safety courses, you'll learn that stuff. Problem is, no "certification programs" are required to drive a boat. Any tourist can go to any marina and rent a boat for the day. All you need is $200 and a cooler of beer. Sad (and very scary).

Her in FLA, over 21, here's the keys.