Officials offer safety tips as summer boating season begins

Published: Jun. 1, 2023 at 5:38 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - A Cedar Rapids man who was seriously hurt in a boating accident over Memorial Day weekend is currently recovering.

Jeff Mattison was boating on the Cedar River near Ellis Park last Saturday. He hit a cement structure that stuck out above water in the Cedar River.

“Wasn’t for sure exactly what happened, I just heard that he was hurt, that he was not responding that scared me. Usually when you get that kind of news, it’s not good after that. I was mainly in shock,” said Michael Flack, a friend of Jeff Mattison.

Jeff Mattison is recovering at the University of Iowa Hospital. His injuries include a torn aortic valve, collapsed lungs and broken bones.

“He’s my family and I miss him and I want him to be healthy and recover,” said Flack.

Michael Flack has known Mattison since he was a teenager. Mattison is a lifelong boater and was in his boat alone when the crash happened May 27th.

“This is the first boating official, unofficial boating is Memorial Day and people have not been out practicing their skills all winter long,” said Susan Stocker, Boating Law Administrator of Iowa DNR. She says incidents like this can happen even if you’re experienced. In May, there were two boating tragedies in Eastern Iowa

“If you have a 40-foot tree, you may if it’s floating down the river. You may be able to see one branch of it,” said Stocker, “So that’s why everybody needs to observe their surroundings.”

Iowa Law requires lifejackets on every watercraft, but only effective if they’re worn. Other safety equipment to keep is a fire extinguisher, a floating device, and a horn and whistle. Drinking and boating laws are similar to drinking and driving with the cut-off at .08.

Flack is just looking forward to seeing his friend back in their band.

“Jeff is a light, when you’re on stage you’re a part of that light. Jeff would not want us to stop playing. Jeff would not want us to sit back and say we’re done,” said Flack.

Mattison’s family and friends want to thank everyone who helped him on that day, witnesses pulled him out to safety. A GoFundMe account has already raised more than $2,000 to support Mattison and his family.

The cause of the accident is still under investigation.