Oklahoma state rep. files boating safety bill

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ARDMORE, OK - A bill filed by State Representative Pat Ownbey Wednesday would require adults to take a boater education course before legally manning a boat on an Oklahoma lake.

Ownbey said the idea for the bill came after a well-known Ardmore woman, Robbie Brooks, was killed in a boating accident on Lake Murray last May.

Records show 34-year-old Kevin Hitt is charged with misdemeanor negligent homicide in her death. Hitt was allegedly driving the boat that crashed into the boat Brooks was riding in. Initial reports state Hitt may have been drinking at the time of the crash, however District Attorney Craig Ladd said Hitt's blood alcohol level came back below the legal limit.

Ownbey said statistics show enhancing education would reduce deadly accidents. Right now in Oklahoma, only 12-year-olds through 16-year-olds are required by law to take a boater education class before driving a boat.

"Since that law came into place back in 2006, it has gone from two or three deaths a year to zero deaths among these young people," Ownbey said. "We see that these courses do make a big difference."

Ownbey's bill would require anyone born after 1992 to take the boating course. He said this would grandfather in most current boaters.