Louisiana Boating Accident Shows Need for Boat Kill Switches

When Tubing becomes SwimmingA boating accident on Lake Mechant left five people with minor injuries in early May, but it could have gone much, much worse.

Witnesses described the accident as “like something out of the movies.” It happened when two men gathering water samples from oyster reefs stopped their boat in the water and a second boat slammed into it at full speed. The second boat launched over the first, and two young girls were ejected from the boat in midair. An older man on the midair boat was thrown to the floor, but managed to regain control of the boat and shut it down. The older man as well as the two men gathering water samples suffered minor injuries, as did the two young girls.

The older man could have stopped the runaway boat if he was wearing a kill switch. If not for his quick thinking, the incident could have been much worse; he said that his boat, if uncontrolled, will pull hard to the right. This means that, had he not stopped the boat, it would have continued in circles, putting all five boaters at risk of being struck by the boat or its propellers.

The Importance of Kill Switches on Boats

Kill cords (or to be more proper, “engine safety cut-out switches”) consist of a length of cord or plastic wire connected to the boat engine’s kill switch. If a helmsperson is thrown from their seat, the kill cord detaches, which stops the boat and removes the risk of injury caused by the the runaway boat or its spinning propellers. It is important to always – always – attach the kill cord to the helmsperson’s life jacket. While the above accident would not have been prevented with the use of a kill cord, it would have drastically lowered the boaters’ chances of injury.


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