Monday, September 10, 2007
"Kayaker" drowns in New Brighton
This was supposed to be the Keweenaw trip report and I will definitely get to that in the next couple of days. When I stumbled into work this morning a couple people asked me if I had heard about the kayaker that had been killed "up north". After a bit of digging and I discovered that 'up north' was Long Lake in New Brighton, a lake that we had several of our club skill sessions and recreational paddles on and is about a 10 minute drive from our house. According to the story in the StarTribune, a 73 year old man visiting, from California, decided to go out on the lake in the kayak. He had never kayaked before, was not wearing a life jacket, and did not know how to swim according to the Hennepin County Medical Examiner.
I'm not even sure what to say about this. Sympathy obviously for the family and relatives that this guy was visiting. Independent of that sentiment, accidents like this one are not good for the paddling community as a whole. What everyone remembers, including 4 of my own coworkers, will be that a kayaker drowned in Long Lake this summer. Can a guy who goes out in an unfamiliar watercraft without a life jacket, even though he can't swim a stroke, be called or thought of as a kayaker? I would have to guess that most of the people reading this would say no. The general public however, is a different story. Like the guy killed by hypothermia at the sea caves in the Apostle Islands this July, this sort of thing is just a waste and never should happen. I wish I knew how to get through to people, educate them, train 'em, and somehow help ward this sort of accident. But I guess all we can do is put forth our best effort to educate and influence those folks within our 'sphere of influence'. For me, that means going to work tomorrow and explaining what went wrong that caused this poor guys demise and what could have been done differently in order to prevent it. It also means me helping out at our skill sessions trying to get folks to paddle smart. Its tough to get my mind around the concept that at the same time we were windbound on Keweenaw Point, some poor guy was paddling off to his eventual demise on our safe little inland practice lake.