(Indianapolis, Ind.) - The drowning of a toddler in Franklin County is prompting state legislation that would require anybody under age 13 to wear a life jacket when on a boat in Indiana.
Seventeen-month-old Mitchell O'Banion, of Florence, Ky., died when he fell into the Whitewater River while kayaking with his parents near Cedar Grove in 2011. The child was wearing a lifejacket that had not been secured.
Senate Bill 434 passed a Senate committee on a 6-2 vote Tuesday. It now heads to the full Senate.
Currently, Indiana law only requires boat operators to carry a flotation device for every passenger in the boat, but no one is required to wear one at all times.
There are a handful of exceptions in the SB 434, such as when a child is in an enclosed cabin, the craft is docked or aground, or the boat is moored or anchored.
Boat operators who are found to be in violation of the law will be ordered to pay a fine that would b deposited in the state’s fish and wildlife fund.