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Old 08-25-2005, 11:36 AM
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Default Fatal collision may spark bill

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Fatal collision may spark bill

A lawmaker says legislation may be needed for Smith Mountain Lake.

By Jay Conley
981-3114
The Roanoke Times

The chairman of a state Senate committee that launched a bill passed this year by the General Assembly mandating daylight patrols on Smith Mountain Lake has said Saturday's fatal boat collision could be the catalyst for more lake legislation.

"Obviously with the tragedy this past weekend, there's going to have to be some other assessment of what we can do to kind of help the situation," Sen. Charles Hawkins, R-Chatham, said Wednesday.

Hawkins represents the 19th District, which includes Franklin and Pittsylvania counties, and is chairman of the Senate Agriculture, Conservation and Natural Resources Committee.

A bill sponsored by Sen. Steve Newman, R-Lynchburg, emerged from that committee during this year's General Assembly session that called for mandatory daylight patrols on the lake by the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries.

The Game Department said this week it is struggling with limited resources to effectively patrol the 22,000-acre lake during the week as well as during busy summer weekends, when boat traffic is heaviest.

Gerald Massengill, acting director of the department, said the agency has been collecting information from accident reports and daily lake patrols in order to demonstrate to legislators during next year's General Assembly session that there is a need for a stronger game warden presence on the lake.

Saturday's fatal collision happened about 10 p.m., a time when game wardens say there are often more boats on the lake than during daytime hours.

According to the Game Department, a high-speed performance boat driven by Mark de Tournillon, 45, of Moneta plowed into the back of a cabin cruiser on the Roanoke River section of the lake, killing Lawrence and Judith Lewis, also of Moneta.

De Tournillon was charged Wednesday with two counts of manslaughter.

Alcohol, prescription drugs and excessive speed are considered to be factors in the collision, according to the Game Department.

Hawkins said Wednesday the collision calls for a closer look at the lake's boating activities.

"I've talked this morning to the game and inland fisheries people, and Col. Massengill, he's been up there and he's going to call me back ... and try to figure out what type of legislation or what can be done to help," Hawkins said.

Other lake-area legislators declined comment Wednesday regarding more legislation at the lake.

"I think it's probably premature at this point," Del. Allen Dudley, R-Rocky Mount, said of any proposed legislation. He wants to see the Game Department's report on the investigation of the accident before commenting.

Under a new state law that went into effect this summer, boaters who cause a fatality while under the influence can be charged with manslaughter.

Dudley said lake residents' concerns that a speed limit for boaters is needed may not be the answer.

"We have speed limits on automobiles and people still speed," he said.

Massengill said he wants to hear what Hawkins and other legislators who represent the lake area want to see regarding additional regulations at the lake.

Both Hawkins and Massengill said they were aware that some lake residents favor some sort of speed limit or engine size limit for boats on the lake. Both said they want to make sure that if any additional laws are put in place that there is enough enforcement to back up the measures.

"That tragedy this weekend I think underscores it all," Hawkins said. "We need to make sure people understand that the boating public ... needs to be tempered with some common sense and regulation to make sure that it's safe for all the people to enjoy that lake."

Hawkins said he plans to speak with Massengill today to discuss safety concerns at the lake and hear what Game Department officials feel are the top priorities.

"I think what they're trying to do is figure out what they can come up with to have some approach that actually tries to address the problem rather than trying to put a Band-Aid on this particular situation," he said. "Something more long-term that has some real effects throughout the state for these other lakes that have problems too."

Hawkins said it may be difficult to design effective legislation on a body of water as large as Smith Mountain Lake.

"Anything that is that large, it's going to be impossible to patrol all of it," he said. "We just need to make sure that people understand the dangers that they can put themselves and other people in out there at night speeding in a boat, particularly if there is alcohol or some other type of abuse in place. This is serious stuff."

Posted here since the other thread was deleted.
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Old 08-25-2005, 11:50 AM
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Default Re: Fatal collision may spark bill

The rumor is idle only speed after dark sounds crazy but would work
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Old 08-25-2005, 11:54 AM
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Default Re: Fatal collision may spark bill

Another accident and another tragedy.....
The last thing we need are more laws...
Less government is better government....
What we need are enforcemment of exisiting laws .....
Anyone traveling at high speeds in a congested area in the dark whether impaired or not, should be prosecuted, I don't know the laws in your state, but I can gaurantee there are plenty to prosecute in this instance....
We on Long Island, experienced a boating tragedy last week that took the life of a young girl. It took place around 9pm ,in the dark and it wasn't foggy.The boats involved where a Mako + a Bayliner.. Nothing to do with high speed activity and the driver tested 0. Boating at night is dangerous! Even if you have Radar... We all HAVE to be MORE CAREFULL.....
Day or Night...
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Old 08-25-2005, 11:54 AM
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Default Re: Fatal collision may spark bill

"YOU CAN'T LEGISLATE STUPIDITY"

Quote from a marine commission meeting on Lake Norman.
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Old 08-25-2005, 12:04 PM
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Default Re: Fatal collision may spark bill

Who did not see this coming.......
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Old 08-25-2005, 12:19 PM
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Re: Fatal collision may spark bill

Just to be constructive,

I think we need running lights that are truly visable, not the current type.. Someone should invent a legal supplementary light system to be used in addition to the current system that is acceptable under the law...
In this way we don't have to deal with the lawmakers..
Take it into our own hands for our own safety.......

Let's be proactive
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Old 08-25-2005, 12:32 PM
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Default Re: Fatal collision may spark bill

Quote:
Saturday's fatal collision happened about 10 p.m., a time when game wardens say there are often more boats on the lake than during daytime hours.
Granted, I have never been to SML, but does that sound right? More boats out at night than during the day?
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Old 08-25-2005, 01:07 PM
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Default Re: Fatal collision may spark bill

Here is a recap of what led to the Lake Conroe night time speed limit. http://www.chron.com/cs/CDA/ssistory...olitan/3250032

Sad story
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Old 08-25-2005, 01:14 PM
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Default Re: Fatal collision may spark bill

Very sad indeed. Bottom line Drinking & operating motor or other vehicles dont mix, period. Too much at stake & risk. If Im operating any machinery, vehicles or boats, I dont drink a drop.
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Old 08-25-2005, 01:57 PM
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Default Re: Fatal collision may spark bill

what is width and length of SML?
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