BEIRUT — A father and his five-year-old child were seriously injured on Sunday in Bouar, on the Kesrwan coast in Mount Lebanon, after being hit by a jet-ski, the state-run National News Agency reported. The father suffered serious injuries and the child a fractured skull.
The two were swimming near the shore when they were hit by an intoxicated person driving the jet-ski, who was arrested shortly after by the police. President of Bouar's municipality, Tanios Atik, told L'Orient-Le Jour the jet-ski driver may "not have noticed the presence of the two swimmers, perhaps because of the glare caused by the sun."
The director of the Lebanese Association for Sports Injury Prevention (LASIP), Ziad Halabi, said that if the jet-ski driver had complied with regulations, specifically those concerning safe distances from swimmers, "the impact would have been less violent and the child would not currently be in a critical condition."
After receiving first aid from a Civil Defense team dispatched to the scene, the father and child were transported to the Bouar government hospital, where they were still being treated on Tuesday, the NNA reported.
L'Orient-Le Jour asked the municipality what actions it planned to take following the accident. "As a municipality, our actions are limited. We don't have the resources to undertake projects on the shore, or even to pay the municipal police responsible for protecting citizens. We do our best with the means at our disposal," responded Atik.
The Internal Security Forces (FSI) told L'Orient-Le Jour they had no details of the incident.
Responsibilities and regulations
With numerous accident reported annually, the incident brought the issue of jet-ski safety back to the spotlight.
Halabi blamed the Ministry of Tourism, which is "responsible for the development of seaside resorts," and the Ministry of Transport, which is "responsible for the navigation of boats."
He said that jet-skis are considered "Class A boats," subject to strict rules of use. "In Lebanon, however, they are often perceived as mere toys used for profit," he criticized. "Anyone can buy as many jet skis as they want and rent them out on the beach," he said.
"The regulations for this type of craft are clear. Entry and exit lanes for jet-skis must be clearly marked with floating buoys, and drivers must use them with care, avoiding crossing areas where swimmers are present. Drivers are also required to wear a lifejacket and have an emergency stop device attached to it, so that they can immediately switch off the engine in the event of an accident or the driver falling. Once 500 meters from the shore, the driver has the right to accelerate, as long as he keeps his distance from other boats," added Halabi.
"We've been fighting for over twelve years to update the current laws, which date back to 1970. We haven't found a single official willing to listen to us. Worse still, we have been met with opposition from the officials in question."