SD GF&P Confirms Three Water Deaths In Two Days

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Three people have died on the water in South Dakota in the last two days.  The Game Fish and Parks Department confirms a Wyoming man drowned in Lake Pactola, after tipping his kayak, Monday evening.  This comes after a California man drowned at Lake Madison on Sunday.  That same day, a man died following a jet ski crash near Platte.  Now the department has a message for anyone heading to the beach.  

That includes the Smith family, who bought a boat last year. 

“Everybody is starting to become water people,” Jeff Smith said. 

In just a short amount of time, his nine-year-old daughter, Kailah, already knows her favorite part. 

“It’s like a vehicle on the water.  That’s why I like it,” Kailah said. 

Just like vehicles on the road, there are rules for boats and jet skis.  That includes having life jackets on board with you.

“If you’re skiing and you fall down and you get hurt and can’t swim, you can’t do anything.  It floats you.  Otherwise, you know, you might be on the bottom,” Smith said.

That is exactly the mentality Game, Fish and Parks wants you to have, especially following the recent water deaths.

“It was a bad weekend,” Jared Hill with GF&P said.

In South Dakota, you must have life jackets for the people on your boat.  Adults are not required to wear them, but Conservation Officer Hill recommends doing so.  He says it is not enough to simply have life jackets near you on a boat. 

“If they’re in a bag or underneath a seat when you need them, if in an accident, they’re not going to be accessible,” Hill said. 

South Dakota law does require children under the age of seven to wear life jackets at all times when they are on any type of water craft.  This advice is already reaching Kailah, who says she always wears a life jacket. 

“Cause it makes me feel safe,” Kailah said.

That is a habit she plans to keep for the years to come. 

“I don’t want to drowned.  I’d rather stay to be an old lady.  I’d rather stay,” Kailah said. 

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