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Northwoods fishing guide pushes for safer Wisconsin life jacket lawsSubmitted: 08/27/2015
MINOCQUA - Too many times, Minocqua-area fishing guide Greg Bohn has heard the stories of tragedy.

A parent on Wisconsin waters jumps in to try to rescue their child, who is in the water without a life jacket. But the parent, also not wearing a personal floatation device (PFD), drowns, even if the child survives.

It happened in July on Shawano Lake in Shawano County, and on Minocqua Lake a few years ago.

"Accidents can happen in seconds, and there's total chaos and emergency," Bohn says while touring Minocqua Lake on his fishing boat.


Just about every state requires children younger than 13 to wear a life jacket while boating.

Wisconsin doesn't.

That has worried a Bohn for years, but July's accident especially spurred him.

"The most recent drowning on Shawano Lake really propelled me to get some progress made," he says.

Neither father nor son was wearing a PFD at the time of that accident.

"Had that child had a PFD on, we would not be talking about a drowning," Bohn says. "It's the parents that, often times, drown, as a result of trying to save their children from drowning."

"They just automatically go into the water, are able to possibly rescue the child, but then they're exhausted and weak and they go down before they can get in themselves," agrees DNR Warden Supervisor Dave Walz.

Bohn wants a state law requiring children younger than 13 to wear PFDs while their boat is moving. He believes it would cut down on drownings.

"Any time a boat is moving or underway, a child is at risk, and so are their parents at risk, while that boat is moving, by not wearing a PFD," Bohn says.

A law might help emphasize the point to Wisconsin boating families.

"When I've been out, I would say about as many aren't wearing life jackets as there are," Walz says of his observations of children on the water.

Bohn will meet with DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp in September, hoping she can help push for a change in law. He also hopes to put pressure on legislators to do the same.

If the state followed Bohn's suggestion, Wisconsin law would match federal law, which currently only applies to federal waters like the Great Lakes, Lake Winnebago, and the Mississippi River.

He thinks it's a simple question.

"Children, when they're in a vehicle, they must be strapped in, they must have their seat belt on," Bohn says. "Why not if they're on a boat that's moving on the water?"

Story By: Ben Meyer

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 LOCAL NEWS
What We're Working OnSubmitted: 08/27/2015

- A donation will help the Merrill Police Department keep its K-9 unit safe. We'll tell you why the K-9 first aid kit will help the unit and why it came with an infant diaper. We'll also tell you how you can help other K-9 units tonight on Newswatch 12.

We'll have the details on this stories and more tonight on Newswatch 12 - news from where you live.

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WAUSAU - Wausau police say a man used a baby as a shield when he surrendered to tactical officers following a standoff.

Authorities say police were called to a house Wednesday night on a report of a domestic disturbance. They found a man and woman who were wanted on felony warrants. Capt. Matt Barnes says police had been looking for the couple in order to check on the welfare of an 8-month-old child.

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WISCONSIN - You can spend a day in the water and help protect Wisconsin waterways this weekend. The Wisconsin River Alliance needs volunteers to find aquatic invasive species. It's for the second statewide AIS Bridge Snapshot Day Saturday.

"We want to pay attention to our streams and creeks in the area here," said Oneida County AIS Coordinator Michele Sadauskas. "We're picking bridge crossings and road crossings just for access. Easy access for people to go down and see if they can find and take a look at any invasive species right in that area. "

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WISCONSIN - DNR workers worry about the wood turtle here in Wisconsin.

That's because it is a state threatened species.

The DNR is trying to learn more about the turtle so it can help keep the population up.

It will do that through federal grant money it got about two years ago.

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 REGIONAL NEWS

IRON COUNTY, MICHIGAN - State troopers in Upper Michigan arrested two people after reports of an explosion and gunfire in Iron County.

It happened around 12:30 yesterday afternoon at a home in Mastadon Township.

The investigation showed two people tried to bring down a structure using fireworks and a large amount of tannerite.

That's an explosive primarily used to make exploding targets.

Commercial grade fireworks, a large quantity of tannerite, and "pipe bomb" type explosives were seized.

Charges are being sought against the two people involved.

(Copyright 2015 Associated Press - All Rights Reserved)

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TOMAH - The troubled Tomah Veterans Administration Medical Center will be making changes to address staff shortages.

The VA will be temporarily closing hospital's 11-bed inpatient psychiatric unit.

It has stopped admitting new patients.

The VA's Matthew Gowan believes the two patients currently in the unit likely will be discharged before the September 4th closure.

Any veteran requiring psychiatric treatment will be transferred to VA facilities in Madison and Milwaukee, or to non-VA hospitals.

Tomah VA Medical Center also plans to suspend psychiatric admissions to its residential long-term care facility until additional staff are hired.

The nursing home will continue admitting veterans with non-psychiatric needs.

Hours for the Urgent Care clinic will be permanently reduced.

(Copyright 2015 Associated Press - All Rights Reserved)

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DES MOINES, IA - Republican presidential candidate Scott Walker says the proper response to the on-air shootings in Virginia is "more sophisticated and challenging" than the gun control measures Hillary Rodham Clinton has proposed.

Clinton said Wednesday outside of Des Moines that if guns weren't so readily available, perhaps carnage like the killings of WDBJ-TV reporter Alison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward by a disgruntled former employee could be prevented.

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SARATOGA - Search warrants filed in Wood County show the teenager accused of fatally shooting a woman had been dating the victim's daughter who ended a relationship with the boy the day her mother was killed.

Gannett Central Wisconsin Media (http://wrtnews.co/1hIc8TK ) reports the warrants describe the events that led to the death of 47-year-old Theresa Coates at her home in Saratoga Aug. 17.

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