Agency says inexperience led to NFL boating deaths – Los Angeles Times

Agency says inexperience led to NFL boating deaths – Los Angeles Times

On February 28th, 2009, a 21 foot fishing boat overturned about 50 miles offshore from Florida. A very sad, tragic event, with only one survivor. Three other people were not found. If not for the fact that two of the four people missing were NFL Football players, it would not of been a national news item for several days.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission report cites carelessness and inexperience as the cause of the accident. Apparently, the boaters tied up the anchor line to the stern of the boat, and then used the engine to try to break the anchor free later in the day. Which swamped and then capsized the boat.

The thing that strikes me in that tragic turn of events, is that as hypothermia set in, the victims removed their life jackets. Hypothermia makes one do strange, stupid things, that make no sense at all. The item that chills me to the core is:

He said that around 5:30 a.m. the next day, Cooper became unresponsive. Schuyler and Bleakley tried to revive him without success.
Cooper’s flotation device was removed and Bleakley put it on. The Oakland Raiders linebacker then became separated from the boat.
About an hour later, Smith started to show “possible extreme symptoms of hypothermia.”  He removed his flotation device and also became separated from the boat.
The two college teammates were the only ones left. They hung on together for about 24 hours, until Bleakley grew weak and removed his life vest as well.
Schuyler said that his friend appeared to die as he was holding onto him. He let his friend go and Bleakley drifted away.

The fact that two men removed their floatation devices while lost in the middle of the ocean only emphasizes how dangerous hypothermia is, and how easy it is to make stupid silly mistakes.

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