July 2006

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Horning, Moore Are Watching Out For You At Lake Powell

By Patrick Horning

Aids To Navigation/Dive Leader Glen Canyon NRA

If you have been to Lake Powell, chances are you have seen the National Park Service 46-foot buoy tender at work. The vessel and its crew are on the water 10 hours a day, maintaining the buoy system and marking hazards.

The crew of two has over 300 floating and fixed aids on Lake Powell, stretching from the river at Lee’s Ferry to Mille Crag Bend above Hite. Besides keeping a constant watch on the buoy system, this crew maintains the anchor and dock systems at Rainbow Bridge and Dangling Rope.

This past winter all new anchor points were installed and cables replaced at Dangling Rope. The lower lake levels allowed the crew to remove old cables that had been dropped and abandoned in the past.

This may seem to be a lot of work for two people, but the crew is also responsible for teaching safe-boating classes to park employees who operate boats. Beyond all of this, what keeps these men — Pat Horning and Rick Moore — eager to show up to work each day is their passion for water and boating safety.

Glen Canyon National Recreation Area operates what is arguably the finest Underwater Search and Recovery team in the nation. Horning and Moore are the heart and soul of this team that has accomplished incredible feats over the years.

Whether diving in deep dark water, or operating the park’s remote-operated vehicle (ROV) "Victor 1," no victim of a water-related accident has been left in Lake Powell in over 15 years.

This unit has developed and uses sophisticated methods to find and recover drowning victims from depths approaching 500 feet deep and in areas exceeding three square miles. Their methods have been taught to divers and police from around the country in an effort to expedite underwater searches and allow for closure for those folks who have lost a loved one in a water-related accident.

The National Park Service allows this team to assist other government agencies with unresolved underwater searches. The team travels frequently and has gone as far as King Salmon, Alaska, to search for drowning victims.

What makes the Glen Canyon method of search successful is the commitment of the team to use a system that incorporates the latest in underwater technology, computerized mapping, and a careful detailed approach to information gathering. Over the last 15 years, this system has cut the cost of underwater search significantly and has been 100 percent effective in finding and recovering every victim of underwater accidents at Glen Canyon NRA, as well as many others in the western United States.

Being involved in these tragedies has fostered commitment by this crew to prevent accidents before they happen. A great deal of time is spent during the winter months speaking on water safety at boat shows, schools, or wherever they can get the safety message out.

When they observe dangerous activity on the lake, they will explain the danger to the boater and give friendly advice on how to enjoy the lake without sustaining an injury or an accident.

Pat Horning recently returned from a trip to Parker, Colo., where he spoke at the Grand Opening of the Double Angel Ballpark. This ballpark was built in memory of Logan and Dillon Dixey — two small boys who were victims of carbon-monoxide poisoning behind a houseboat at Lake Powell.

This tragedy focused the nation on the problem of carbon monoxide and boats. Ken and Bambi Dixie, the parents of the boys, created the Double Angel foundation to memorialize the two boys by providing a state-of-the-art baseball facility for the youth of the Denver area and to eliminate the problem of carbon monoxide and boating.

Horning was able to report in his speech that in the last three years, there have been no carbon-monoxide-related deaths at Lake Powell.

Educating boaters about the dangers of carbon monoxide has reduced the incidence of drowning at Lake Powell by 50 percent. This is a tremendous accomplishment, but even one drowning in a year is too many.

Cliff diving historically has resulted in more deaths and injuries than any other activity at Lake Powell. Because of this, the park service has prohibited jumping from heights greater than 15 feet.

This year, four very serious accidents have occurred while boaters were using kite tubes. These large wing-shaped towable toys are designed to become airborne with their riders when being pulled at speed of up to 40 miles per hour.

The promotional videos show what appears to be an exciting, but safe, flight when, in reality, the tubes have no means of control. A slight dip or a change of speed in the vessel can cause the tube to violently drop from its height, slamming the rider into the water.

Superintendent Kitty Roberts has banned the use of these toys on Lake Powell.

Some of the other major concerns on Lake Powell are Speed in Proximity violations, where vessels approach other boats and occupied shorelines too closely.

And, also important is Safe Operation of Personal Watercraft: Remember, while in the state of Utah, minors must have taken a PWC course and obtained a permit before operating by themselves.

This course is offered by Utah State Parks at Lake Powell several times a week.

On your next visit to Lake Powell, keep an eye out for the big white boat and Horning and Moore. They are watching out for you.


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