Florida representative to introduce ‘Ethan’s Law’ in honor of Sarasota boy killed in boating accident
SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) - State Representative Fiona McFarland announced Thursday that she will be introducing legislation following a boating accident that killed 10-year-old Ethan Isaacs in November of last year.
This incident took place during a youth sailing practice. Isaacs was struck by an unmanned boat after its operator lost his footing and fell. Two other juveniles were injured.
“Ethan’s Law” would require operators of motorboats under 26 feet to wear an engine safety cutoff device, which automatically shuts off the engine if the operator is thrown overboard. Seven other states currently have similar laws in place, and the US Coast Guard will adopt the same rule in 2021.
“Through our grieving process, we needed to find a purpose, a meaning moving forward in order for us to heal,” said Mindy Isaacs, Ethan’s mom. “That’s why we reached out to Representative McFarland, we really want to prevent other families from experiencing the tragedy that we experienced.”
“We’re truly grateful for Representative McFarland and other legislators in taking up this cause for our son Ethan in his memory,” said Greg Isaacs, Ethan’s dad.
McFarland said that she received wide support for the bill, working with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), boat owners associations, boat manufacturers, and various other marine safety stakeholders when crafting the bill’s language. “Whenever there’s a tragedy, particularly when a young child dies, you always wonder what could have been done to prevent it from happening,” said McFarland. “I’m honored to be working with the Issacs family to make the Florida waterways safer.”
Since 2015, there have been 95 formal reports of accidents involving an operator falling overboard, 79 of which resulted in an accident where someone was injured or killed.
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