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Bilingual videos promote lake safety

The afternoon was bright and the blue water looked white as it sprayed behind the high-powered speedboat.

On board was a family of three — father, mother and young daughter — that stopped on the open waters of Lake Mead for an afternoon of relaxation. The father decided to take a quick dip in the lake without a life jacket, and he soon found himself in an unmanageable situation, which led to him drowning.

This was the scene depicted in a YouTube video produced in English and Spanish and released in October to help promote life jacket safety awareness at Lake Mead.

“We wanted to reach a larger audience from both English- and Spanish-speaking groups,” said Christie Vanover, public affairs officer at Lake Mead National Recreation Area.

The video — one of three done in both languages — promotes boater education, which is mandatory in Nevada for anyone born on or after Jan. 1, 1983, who operates a motorized vessel. The father drowns in the video named “Learn to Drive Your Boat” because his wife could not operate their boat and bring him to safety.

Ironically, the scenario was all too real June 23, 2012, when a 28-year-old staff sergeant stationed at Creech Air Force Base in Indian Springs jumped into the lake without a life jacket. When the boat started to drift away from Antonio Tucker, the woman and child aboard were unable to operate the boat to draw it back toward him. His body wasn’t recovered until April.

Another video titled “Know Your Limits” shows a group of teenage boys attempting to swim across a long stretch of water — without life jackets — to get to a group of teenage girls. When the first two arrive, they quickly forget about their friend who is still out on the water and in trouble.

The third video, titled “Watch Your Children,” shows a large crowd of kids that head to the water with little supervision. When they return to shore, a mother realizes that her child is missing when a beach ball blows by the group.

All three videos were funded by a $10,000 grant from the National Park Foundation, an agency created by lawmakers to help increase the amount of private dollars obtained for national parks.

The park service at Lake Mead Recreation Area began its social media campaign last October with the release of the videos and it has no plans of slowing down. The park service posts weather and other information for Lake Mead and Lake Mohave on its Twitter account @LakeMeadNRA, which has 3,200 followers. The park also actively engages on its Facebook page, which received more than 13,500 hits during Memorial Day weekend.

“People outside the area can get weather information before they get here,” Vanover said.

According to Vanover, the park service is implementing this as part of its “101 Days of Summer” campaign, which takes place from Memorial Day to Labor Day. The campaign was created to help keep the park running smoothly, even during times of high visitation.

During the Memorial Day weekend, Lake Mead and Lake Mohave had more than 225,000 visitors with no reports of serious injuries or fatalities, Chief Ranger Mary Hinson said.

Despite the quiet Memorial Day weekend, park officials expect to have issues during the time between the two holidays.

“We have more incidents in that time than we do the whole year,” Supervisory Park Ranger Mark Hnat said.

The campaign involves more than just directing traffic.

“We have launch teams ready to assist people with their boat,” Hnat said.

While Memorial Day didn’t see any major accidents, a man died Saturday while scuba diving with a group near Kingman Wash north of Hoover Dam.

William H. Meyer, 52, of Las Vegas, was unresponsive when he surfaced from a dive around 8:45 a.m., witnesses told the park service. People aboard a bystander boat initiated CPR while transporting him to Hemenway Harbor where National Park Service emergency personnel tried to resuscitate him.

Meyer was pronounced dead at 9:45 a.m., according to the park service.

The incident is under investigation, and Clark County coroner’s office has not issued a cause of death.

Vanover said scuba diving is a popular activity at the Lake Mead. It serves as a training ground for people receiving instruction before going to the ocean.

“The park usually sees at least one injury or fatality related to scuba diving each year,” she said.

A 48-year-old Utah diving instructor died Sept. 29, 2012, while diving in the Black Canyon area, and two park service employees where injured in November during a dive in the Boulder Basin.

Vanover said the park’s website offers in-depth information about diving at the lakes, including safety tips and popular dive spots. Visit www.1.usa.gov/136NFcU for more information.

The safety videos can be viewed online at www.youtube.com/LakeMeadNRA.

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