Rule 1 / Case 2

Always Wear Your PFD (Lifejacket)

Michael Francis and Randy Francis July 6th 2012 - Matanuska Lake, Alaska

It was a pretty Friday morning in Alaska, but the water in glacier-fed Lake Matanuska was bitterly cold at 9 a.m. when 70-year-old Michael Francis of Pocatello, Idaho and his brother 55-year-old Randy Francis of Palmer, Alaska rented a 16-foot red canoe from Lifetime Adventures, a contractor that operates the campground and a canoe-rental livery at the state recreation area.

Within an hour, a family out on the lake saw an overturned canoe and discovered Michael nearby, floating dead in the water, his arm looped through a life jacket. There was no sign of his brother Randy. Neither man was wearing a personal floating device (PFD / Lifejacket)when the canoe capsized, and the one Randy should have been wearing washed up on shore a short while later. ​ The Mat-Su Borough dive team and Mat-SAR dog teams responded to the incident and they continued to search the area for Randy’s body until it was found the following afternoon at a depth of 35 feet. ​ Case Note: This case raises the question of whether it’s sensible for vendors to rent canoes to people who are completely unprepared for immersion in very cold water. Also, whenever you read that the "dive team" is on scene, it's a reliable sign that the victim wasn't wearing a PFD.


Major Contributing Factors

  • No PFD (Lifejacket)

  • Not Dressed For Water Temperature

  • Unable To Recover From Capsize

  • Unable to Call For Help

  • Unaware of Hazards

  • Paddling Solo