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A recent string of accidents in the Portland area inspires reminders from a state agency

PMG FILE PHOTO - Recent incidents on rivers in the Portland area prompted the Oregon Marine Board to advise boaters to be mindful of others on the water, including creating dangerous wakes that can swamp smaller watercraft.

Due to recent incidents on the water in the Portland area, the Oregon Marine Board is encouraging boaters statewide to be more courteous of others. In a press release issued July 29, the board outlined various laws and guidelines associated with boating, along with incidents on the water in recent weeks.

The board advises that if your boat creates a wake large enough to capsize someone else's vessel, you are required to help them out or risk a "misdemeanor violation or worse" for your conduct. Ignoring a capsized boat that is your responsibility is potentially a crime.

"In the past few weeks we've had several reports of motorized boats capsizing or swamping dragon boats and small crew boats in the Portland area," Randy Henry, boating safety manager for the agency, said in the release. "According to witness accounts, the boat operators made eye contact with the victims but continued on their way without stopping to assist. This can literally be a criminal offense."

A Class A misdemeanor citation could be the result of failing to perform the duties toward fellow boaters. In cases of injury or death as a result of these incidents, the offending boater who left the scene may be charged with a Class C felony as well.

"If we get a good description of the operator, we will go after them," Henry said. "We have some congested waterways in Oregon now and boaters need to watch out for each other. Those who do, are heroes. Those who don't, create conflict and risk lives. This is no different than a hit-and-run in a motor vehicle – the consequences are worse if you drive away."

For more information on the Oregon Marine Board, its policies and with whom it partners, visit

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