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Drowning of couple at Lake Havasu is a sad reminder of the importance of life jackets

Posted July 24, 2017

PHOENIX — The drowning of two adults at Lake Havasu on Friday, July 21, is a sad reminder that everyone — regardless of age — should wear a life jacket when out on the water. Although Arizona requires that children 12 and younger must wear a properly fitting life jacket any time a boat is underway, everyone should wear a life jacket at all times while on the water.

The Mohave County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) reported that 41-year-old Esmeralda Gonzalez of Monrovia, Calif., jumped from a boat in an area near Crazy Horse Cove to go for a swim. She was not wearing a life jacket and began to panic in the water. Her husband, Raul Gonzalez, 44, jumped into the water to rescue her but he also was not wearing a life jacket. They were seen struggling in the water, according to the MCSO, prior to both going under and not resurfacing.

Esmeralda was pulled from the water at about 3:25 p.m. and brought to the Crazy Horse Docks where off-duty Los Angeles County deputy sheriffs administered CPR. She was pronounced dead by Lake Havasu City Fire Department personnel.

At about 3:45 p.m., Raul was located in 12 feet of water by the Lake Havasu City Police Department and the San Bernardino County, Calif., Sheriff’s Department marine units. He was transported to the Crazy Horse Docks and pronounced dead.

The MCSO reported that the accident remains under investigation and alcohol may have been a factor.

U.S. Coast Guard statistics show that drowning was the reported cause of death in 80 percent of recreational boating fatalities in 2016 and that 83 percent of those who drowned were not wearing life jackets.

“Wearing a life jacket is a critical and simple step that people can take in order to stay safe when out on the water,” said Josh Hoffman, boating safety education coordinator for the Arizona Game and Fish Department. “Don’t just keep life jackets onboard for everyone — take the next step and wear them.”

The Arizona Game and Fish Department recommends that watercraft operators and their passengers take a free boating safety course in Phoenix or Lake Havasu City to learn the information and tips needed to stay safe while on the water.

For more information on boating safety or to register for a hands-on or online safety course, visit www.azgfd.com/Education/Boating.

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