Roberts: Hauer truly loved getting out on the water

Published 12:00 am Sunday, September 17, 2006

As are lakes and rivers grow in popularity, boating accidents are inevitable.

Some accidents are minor, and some are tragic like the drowning at Deer Park this week. I knew Jeff Hauer well, and he was a great guy, avid fishermen and family man.

Jeff was no rookie to boating but he made a mistake. It was a mistake that most of us are guilty of making at one time or another.

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The story I heard was his cap flew off. When made a turn to circle back and pick up his cap, he was thrown from the boat. Jeff did not have a life jacket on or the outboards kill switch attached to his life jacket.

The kill switch is a device that cuts the power off to the outboard if you leave the drivers seat. A short lanyard pops a toggle switch, and the motor shuts off.

If Jeff had put on his life jacket and attached the kill switch lanyard to it, he would be here today to talk about his accident. Sadly, as of Friday, Jeff&8217;s body had yet to be recovered. My heart felt prayers go out to his family and friends.

I have waited on the banks with family members in the past while rescue teams search for a body. It is a terrible, terrible thing.

I just hope and pray that they recovery Jeff&8217;s body so his family can put him to rest and they, too, can rest.

Alcohol is involved in the majority of boating accidents, but I can assure you that it wasn&8217;t in this one. As far as know Jeff did not drink at all.

I do know he fished. He fished a lot, and he loved it. I remember a dozen or more times when my fishing partners cap or my cap blew off and we circled back to pick it up.

If you&8217;re running fast on plane at full trim, boats do not turn well. The hull will skid then bite hard and turn sharp. This may be what happened to Jeff.

Before making a turn in a high performance boat or, for that matter, any boat with power trim and tilt, always trim the engine down first and then throttle back. Look over your shoulder to make sure another boat is not behind you before making a turn.

Life jackets are called life jackets for a good reason. They can save your life.

Take a look at the jackets you have now. If they are old, molded and don&8217;t fit well buy new ones and don&8217;t buy a cheap life jacket. A quality life jacket will cost anywhere from $50 to $100 or more. That&8217;s a small price to pay when your life may depend on it.

Check you outboards kill switch. Make sure it&8217;s working properly. Before you leave the dock, tie everything down.

I preach safety throughout the year in my columns and on my radio show. It really upsets me when what should have been a minor boating accident turns into a tragic one and someone loses their life while family and friends suffer.

Let Jeff&8217;s accident be a lesson to us all. Even veteran boaters and fishermen can make mistakes. Jeff did, and he will be missed. God bless his family and friends.

Eddie Roberts writes a weekly fishing column for The Natchez Democrat. Reach him at