In the summer of 2020, several boating accidents occurred on Lake Murray in the Midlands of South Carolina that caused death and serious injury, as well as property damage.
On July 18th, a woman was killed in the area of Tom Drafts Point in Gilbert due to blunt force trauma. On August 17th, a boating crash in Newberry destroyed two boats and left one person with serious injuries.
But before those accidents, a fatal boating accident in September 2019 took the life of Stan Kizer and caused his wife to lose one of her legs. Friends of the Kizer family created a Facebook group called Safe the Lake to foster conversations about boating safety.
Now in the winter of 2021, a piece of legislation is making its way through the South Carolina state house to focus on improving the safety of our state’s navigable waters. Introduced on January 28th by Senators Chip Campsen, III from Charleston, Thomas McElveen from Sumter and Harvey Peeler, Jr. from Gaffney, Senate Bill S 0497 proposes a boater safety course as a mandatory requirement for operating a watercraft.
Essentially this bill will require boat operators to take a short course in boating safety. Sam Mitchum, a friend of the Kizer family is encouraging public support of this legislation. “The reason I am asking you to support this bill is because the number of boats on our inland waters is increasing quickly,” he said.
“Also, many newer boats are very over-powered. Now there is a much greater risk of severe boating accidents and people are being maimed and killed in accidents involving more than one boat that could possibly be prevented if the boat driver and occupants had completed safety training.”
This bill is being discussed in the South Carolina Senate Fish, Game and Forestry Committee on Wednesday, February 17th at 10:00am.
Here is the full text of the bill:
A BILL TO AMEND SECTION 50-21-90 OF THE 1976 CODE, RELATING TO THE BOATING SAFETY AND EDUCATIONAL PROGRAM, TO REQUIRE THE DEPARTMENT OF NATURAL RESOURCES TO ISSUE A BOATING SAFETY CERTIFICATE UPON THE COMPLETION OF CERTAIN REQUIREMENTS; TO AMEND ARTICLE 1, CHAPTER 21, TITLE 50 OF THE 1976 CODE, RELATING TO THE EQUIPMENT AND OPERATION OF WATERCRAFT, BY ADDING SECTION 50-21-95, TO PROVIDE THAT IT IS UNLAWFUL FOR A PERSON TO OPERATE CERTAIN WATERCRAFT ON THE WATERS OF THIS STATE WITHOUT HAVING POSSESSION OF A SOUTH CAROLINA BOATING SAFETY CERTIFICATE, WITH CERTAIN EXCEPTIONS, AND TO PROVIDE A PENALTY FOR A VIOLATION OF THIS PROVISION; TO DEFINE NECESSARY TERMS; TO DELETE SECTION 50-21-870(A)(1), RELATING TO THE DEFINITION FOR THE TERM "PERSONAL WATERCRAFT"; AND TO DELETE SECTION 50-21-870(B)(9), RELATING TO THE OPERATION OF CERTAIN WATERCRAFT BY PERSONS YOUNGER THAN SIXTEEN YEARS OF AGE.