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Down the Tubes: Recent Death Casts Light on Watersport’s Dangers

Tubing remains among the most popular watersports in Florida, attracting enthusiasts and casual participants alike. The activity involves an inflatable craft towed either by a motorboat or a personal watercraft, such as a Jet Ski or WaveRunner. Speeds vary, with more advanced tubers using a boat’s wake or natural waves to launch themselves into airborne tricks and stunts.

While slower tubers view the activity as a relaxing way to enjoy a day on the lake or ocean, the recent death of a young Florida tuber may have them reconsidering this. The victim was a 15-year-old girl who was sharing the tube with a friend, who escaped with minor injuries. The heartbreaking accident occurred when a Jet Skier crossed the path of the tubers and collided with them, sending the girls into the water.

Staggering statistics

A study by the Center for Injury Research and Policy of the Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital is raising red flags for safety watchdogs. The study indicates that there has been a 250 percent increase in the number of tubing-related injuries over a 19-year period and that approximately 65 tubing injuries are treated in U.S. emergency rooms every day of the summer months.

The study’s coauthor identified several factors that may be contributing to the steady increase in tubing injuries. Specifically, she pointed to:

  • General lack of directional control with most tubes
  • Increased velocity through higher-powered tow vehicles
  • Greater numbers of riders per tube

The study identified the head and the upper extremities as the most common body parts to be injured, with water impact and contact with fellow tubers ranking as the most common causes of injury.

Legal implications

In many cases tubing accidents may be the result of negligence on the part of the boat’s operator, an equipment manufacturer or another boater responsible for the collision. The primary question is whether another individual’s carelessness caused a victim’s injuries. In short, if the answer to this question is yes, the victim may be able to recover for his or her damages.

When boating accidents occur, only a competent lawyer can advise victims on their rights and the prudent course of action to achieve a full recovery.

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