Teen identified in jet ski accident

Teen identified in jet ski accident

The Georgia Department of Natural Resources has identified the teen injured in a jet ski accident in Columbia County as 14-year-old Thomas Marshall Jay.

Jay is in critical condition at Georgia Regents Medical Center. He was airlifted to the hospital after he was thrown off one jet ski and hit by another one at Wildwood Park in Appling.

Officials said Jay was on the back of the jet ski being driven by a 17-year-old female.

"He was on the front one, two more were kind of following, and she cut in the front and kind of threw him off and the other two came by," said Cpl. Brian Hobbins with the Georgia DNR. "They, in the panic and everything, they hollered and looked back and he was floating in the water injured."

DNR and Wildwood Park officials both agree that jet ski safety is key, especially when out on busy lakes and rivers. With speeds reaching up to 90 mph, teens 12 to 15 years old have to either be driving with an adult or have taken the boater safety course. Anyone 16 and older needs to have a valid license to operate a jet ski.

"Both of the juveniles had taken the boater safety course, so they were legally driving the vessels," Hobbins said. "They had taken the course and they did know the laws. Now whether they were obeying them or not, at this point we're still trying to investigate."

Clyde Dye works as a Camp Host at Wildwood Park, and she said people are always speeding when out on the water.

"Jet skis are going way too fast out here, they're driving way too close to the shorelines," she said.

Hobbins and Dye both agree that too many teens think that nothing can go wrong when they're out on the water.

"They think they're invincible out here," Dye said.

"At that age especially as young as these kids were, you don't think about anything serious happening like that. They're out here at the lake having a good time, a lot of them are in town visiting family," Hobbins said. "They came out to the lake to have a good time and unfortunately something tragic happens."

Dye feels its all about being aware of your surroundings when out on the water.

"You always got to look out for other people. You always got to be aware of your surroundings. Especially if you're around a lot of people, a lot of boats are going on, a lot of people are skiing, you've just got to constantly be on the lookout and watching," she said.

This is an ongoing investigation and the DNR is trying to figure out which of the jet skis hit the victim and the details surrounding the accident. They've taken the three jet skis from the incident for further investigation and to see if there was any damage done to them.

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