“We had an incident yesterday and it wasn’t a good outcome.” The young National Park ranger told us, his delivery straightforward. No emotion, no hysteria, and no lecture. But the message was as clear as the river water.
The ranger, binoculars in hand, stood by the Delaware River across from the Zane Grey Museum in Lackawaxon, PA, scanning the horizon for boaters, checking for the presence of life jackets. Those not wearing them, he asked to “hold them up” for him to see. Many keep them in their boats.
There are rules about life jackets on the Delaware. Under 13: required. And since 2009, when the water rises to 6 feet, everyone must wear one. Get caught breaking the rule? $50 fine. For the 71-year-old Long Island man May 29th, the consequences were far greater. And he wasn’t wearing a life jacket, according to his wife and a friend. The National Park Service has divers searching for his body.
One has to question the judgment. Rivers have currents; shallow water can become deep within minutes. Life jackets save lives.
As do bike helmets. I had an accident two months ago. Coming off a straight road into an “S” curve, I must have been distracted and lost control. Bike and I went over a guardrail. I slid down the embankment on my back. A grove of trees and shrubs stopped my descent into the same Delaware River, albeit many miles south, across from Frenchtown, NJ. I remember laying there thinking how comfortable my helmet felt. Luckily, I was okay- a broken bone in my right hand- but it could have been much worse. Helmets save lives, too.
I cringe when I see cyclists without helmets, particularly children.
I could go on: seatbelts, car seats, designating a driver. Everyone thinks it won’t happen to them. Guess again.