Sonora, CA — Tuolumne County sheriff’s officials are sharing the tragic news of a boat crash this weekend that claimed the life of a 45-year-old woman.
According to the accident report, Saturday around 11:30 p.m., the sheriff’s office received a call of a possible accident just north of the Fleming Meadows boat ramp on Lake Don Pedro in La Grange after the caller reported seeing two flares discharged over the water from Fleming Campground.
Arriving on-scene, sheriff’s deputies and the boat patrol unit determined that 55-year-old Waid Lababibi of Santa Clara, while operating his vessel in the darkness crashed into the south face of Rock Island and his wife, 45-year-old Shukran Badawi, had suffered fatal injuries as a result.
He was transported to a Modesto hospital for minor injuries and was later released, officials say, noting that neither alcohol, drugs or gross negligence is suspected but that the main factor in the tragedy was operator error due to inexperience.
Sheriff’s officials urge recreaters, especially those without a high level of operator experience and/or with unfamiliarity of the surrounding area, to use extreme caution when operating vessels after dark. Too, travel at a low rate of speed and use an additional person as a lookout. Slower travel allows watercraft operators extra time to react. Even with spotlights, reflections off the water can add to navigational challenges. It is also important to make sure that navigation systems are reflecting the actual geography of the area. Signal devices, as were used in this case, such as flares, whistles and air horns are also essential onboard tools to summon help.