SARASOTA, Fla. (WFLA) – A bill aimed at preventing boating deaths has cleared its first hurdle in Tallahassee. “Ethan’s Law,” named after a Sarasota boy who died in 2020, saw unanimous approval in its first committee hearing this week.
The bill, sponsored by State Rep. Fiona McFarland of Sarasota, would help educate boaters on the importance of wearing an engine cut off switch. It would also require water sports instructors to wear the device while operating a motorboat.
A broader version of the bill that would have required the kill-switch for all recreational boaters didn’t move forward in 2021. But this year, McFarland and Ethan Isaac’s parents are hopeful.
Ethan’s parents, Greg and Mindy Isaacs, have stressed their son’s death was 100-percent preventable. They hope “Ethan’s Law” will help save lives.
The 10-year-old was killed during sailing practice in Sarasota Bay in November 2020. He was struck by his instructor’s unmanned boat.
“As the sailing instructor leaned over the side of his power boat to help one of the students, he slipped and fell overboard. On his way over the side, his foot hit the throttle,” Rep. McFarland said during this week’s committee hearing. “If that instructor had been wearing that device, the worst thing that would’ve happened on that day is the sailing instructor would have gone for a swim in Sarasota Bay.”
“I want you to imagine dropping your child off at sailing practice and you never get to bring him home. Over the next week, you were planning his funeral, signing his death certificate and thanking his best friends for loving him,” Mindy Isaacs said during the hearing in Tallahassee this week. “Ethan’s death was 100-percent preventable. We trusted his instructor would keep him safe. It was as simple as an instructor clipping into the engine cut off switch already installed on his boat.”
The Isaacs want Floridians and visitors to enjoy their time out on the water. They just want to ensure everyone makes it home safely.
“We want Ethan to be remembered. We want his life to have an impact on the world. Through our efforts and just improving boating safety, we think he will have a legacy,” said Greg Isaacs.
Mindy Isaacs told us her son was a critical thinker, a problem solver and an all around caring person. She believes this law embodies elements of his character.
“We really feel that the bill represents his care of other people, his problem solving of finding a simple solution that just makes sense,” said Isaacs.
If passed, ‘Ethan’s Law’ would go into effect this July.
The Isaacs set up a memorial fund in Ethan’s memory. Through donations, the family will fund nonprofit organizations to provide boat safety, education and training to prevent future boating tragedies.
Anyone interested in learning more about the fund or donating, can visit this link.