It's Not The Law, But DNR Says Increased Life Jacket Use Is Badly Needed

By Jeff Neumeyer

July 5, 2011 Updated Jul 5, 2011 at 5:46 PM EDT

WHITLEY COUNTY, Ind. (Indiana's NewsCenter) --- The Indiana Department of Natural Resources this summer is revving up a campaign to increase life jacket use in Indiana waters.

The DNR would like to see a loophole closed in Indiana law regarding boating safety.

In the Hoosier state, boaters have to have enough life jackets on board to cover all the passengers, but the people don't have to actually wear the flotation devices, and that goes for small children too.

Conservation officers say careless use of life jackets is an ongoing problem.

They say most people tote them, but it can be a case of out of sight, out of mind.

Darren Reed/Indiana Conservation Officer: " We ask them for their personal flotation devices and they dig them out of a storage compartment, or out of some sort of compartment or bin. You know, you're not required to wear them, but they should at least be easily available, so if someone does need one, you can quickly gain access to one."

It can be a life or death matter.

At least two children have drowned in Indiana since August 2009 because they weren't wearing life jackets or the devices weren't properly fastened.

Two boating mishaps occurred over the Fourth of July holiday weekend on the region’s lakes.

On Shriner Lake in Whitley County on Saturday, 17-year old Tyler Andreas died after he was thrown from the Jet Ski he was riding on.

The Allen County Coroner's office is still trying to determine cause of death.

Meanwhile, we're told an 8-year old boy who suffered a skull fracture in a Jimmerson Lake boating mishap is breathing on his own again.

His condition is improving, after he was flung from an inner tube he was being pulled on, into another boat on the water.

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