As officials revealed the details about the death of the son of country music singer Craig Morgan, the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) has stressed the importance of life jackets.
An initial report found a collision may have contributed to Jerry Greer’s death while he was tubing with friends on Kentucky Lake in Waverly. The report also found Greer was wearing a life jacket, but not one that was approved by the U.S. Coast Guard.
Doug Markham, a spokesperson for the TWRA, said Greer was probably wearing something like a wake vest that is often used in competitions. It is a thinner vest designed for increased mobility, but it may not be very buoyant.
Tennessee law allows people being towed by a boat to wear the non-approved vests as long as they have a vest approved by the U.S.Coast Guard in the boat. Markham said he recommends people look for a marking on a life vest that shows it is approved by the Coast Guard.
“You’ll see U.S. Coast Guard approval,” said Markham. “That tells you it has enough flotation to help you float. Every time we have a boating accident, we always try and remind people if you wear the right jacket you have a good chance of surviving.”
Randy Ventress, District Chief of Staff with the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary often teaches boating safety classes at The Boat Locker in Hermitage. He recommends people use a life jacket that is in good condition, the proper size, is appropriate for the event you are participating in, and is approved by the U.S. Coast Guard.
“Life jackets on the boat are great, but the best life jacket is the one that is worn while you are on the water,” said Ventress. “You never know when an accident can happen.”
The TWRA reports there have been 13 boat related deaths so far this year in Tennessee. There were 14 total deaths in 2015.
The next boating safety class will be offered at The Boat Locker on Aug.6 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. The class is free, but participants need to call the store to register.
The final autopsy report had not been released from the medical examiner.