06/28/04 — OPINION -- If only ...

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OPINION -- If only ...

By Gene Price
Published in News on June 28, 2004 1:57 PM

Mintt Hoang Truong, 36, of Raleigh was considered "a good swimmer." On Father's Day, he and his two sons were enjoying a boating trip on Falls Lake.

He apparently was trying to put up a canopy when a gust of wind caused him to lose his balance and fall overboard. The wind apparently also caught in the canopy and caused the family's Bayliner Capri boat to move away from Truong as he tried to swim toward it.

Investigators, friends and a man who tried to get a life jacket to him as he struggled in the water theorized that Truong must have panicked.

His body was not recovered until the following morning.

Truong's two sons, 5 and 7, both were wearing life jackets. He wasn't.

Under federal law, children 12 and under are required to have their life preservers on. Adults aren't.

But boating safety officers say it is a good idea for all aboard vessels to wear their life jackets. Even good swimmers -- like Mintt Hoang Truong, who drowned in front of his little sons ... on Father's Day.


I operate a 17 foot center console fishing boat. Usually I am alone. While I don't venture far out into the ocean, I do like to fish around the inlets. And changing tides, sudden winds or passing vessels can cause dangerous seas.

The little boat, an AquaSport, is unusually stable for its size. But the gunnels, or sides, are not high, and passage around the console is restricted.

I make it a personal rule to always wear my life jacket while aboard the boat. Mine is one that inflates automatically upon being immersed. Until then, it is as comfortable as a pair of suspenders. So comfortable, in fact, I often find myself still wearing it when I return to the house or climb into my truck.

If only Mintt Hoang Truong had been wearing one on Father's Day.