Rangers help with ‘jacket safety

Julie Stone

U.S. Army Corps of Engineer Rangers Steve Peterson and Bob Mumford were in the right place at the right time on Saturday, June 5 when they noticed that three girls, ages 14 to 16 years old, had fallen off their jet ski at Conchas Lake.

According to Peterson, all three were trying to swim back to the Jet Ski and were showing signs of fatigue.
“It was obvious to us that these girls were in trouble,” Peterson said, “their lifejackets were too big and they were having trouble trying to swim in them.” Peterson saod that one of the girls’ lifejacket had come apart and she was trying to swim with it under her arm when she became distressed. “You could see the panic in her face,” he said, “she was starting to grab onto the girl swimming in front of her.”

The girl saw the Corps of Engineers Patrol Boat coming to her aid and called out that she couldn’t make it. Rangers then used a long telescoping pole called a “pike pole” to reach out to the swimmer and pulled her safely aboard their boat. After repairing the lifejacket, rangers safely returned the girl to her friends. “This year we took the time to go out to the schools and talked to nearly 1600 kids about water safety and lifejackets because we care. We don’t want incidents like this to happen,” said Ranger Bob Mumford who gives water safety programs at local schools.
Mumford said that there is more to wearing a lifejacket than just putting it on. “We always say to people ‘make sure you wear your lifejacket’ and these girls were doing that, but it’s just as important to make sure it’s not falling apart and that it fits properly,” he said. “If you’ve got all that, it will save your life.”

For more information on water or boating safety visit the Conchas Lake website at www.spa.usace.army.mil/recreation/projectwebpages/conchas/index.htm