A 15-year-old girl from Texas who drowned in June while on a boating trip had high levels of carbon monoxide in her blood, an autopsy has revealed.
Sarah Pool was on a church-sponsored wakeboarding camp on Lake Travis, according to TWC News. She was not wearing a life jacket, and officials said a warning sticker was displayed at the back of the boat cautioning about the threat of carbon monoxide.
According to LiftBump, Pool and two other girls were hanging off the back of the boat and playing in the water when Pool disappeared and never resurfaced.
“Generally with carbon monoxide poisoning you need something concentrated to affect you, and when you're out in an open boat it doesn't (affect you) but when you're in a boat where the exhaust is at the back of the boat, it's something that you need to be aware of,” said Roger Wade from the Travis County Sheriff’s Office, reported KVUE.
The boat was idle at the time, but the engine was running.
“If the engine’s running, exhaust fumes are being created. Exhaust fumes equal carbon monoxide,” said Mitch Strobl of Boat-Ed.com, LiftBump reports.
The Coast Guard reported there have been 16 deaths on the water over the past five years as a result of carbon monoxide poisoning.
One person who experienced a similar incident to Pool’s death was Larry Mann, a wakeboard enthusiast who lost a friend to the gas referred to as a “silent killer.”
“She was on the back of the boat on the swim platform,” Mann told KXAN. “When they looked back, she was gone. She did not have a life preserver. Unfortunately it was the same scenario.”
Mann explained that the risks are even greater with older boats. In response, he invented the Fresh Air Exhaust, which can be fitted to the boat’s exhaust. It diverts the gas down in to the water, enabling it to be swept away by the boat’s propeller.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Coast Guard released a set of safety tips in the wake of Pool’s death. These included being aware of where carbon monoxide comes from within the boat, making sure fresh air circulates freely, identifying where the exhaust outlets are and staying away from the swim platform when the boat is running.
"We want to see this stop. Boating should be fun and people should be able to have a good time and not have to worry about dying,” Mann told KXAN.
Photo Credit: Facebook via LiftBump