Woman dies riding personal watercraft on Tahoe


By Kathryn Reed

A mother and daughter riding personal watercraft on Lake Tahoe collided Wednesday resulting in one death.

Dawn Finn, 52, of Westwood, N.J., died upon impact July 24, according to officials.

The two women were on individual rented personal watercraft at 1:50pm about 200 hundred yards from Incline Beach when the accident occurred.

The 21-year-old daughter was not injured in the accident. Both women were wearing life jackets. Many family members were on the beach and saw the vessels collide.

“This was a traumatic injury,” Ed Lyngar, spokesman for the Nevada Department of Wildlife, told Lake Tahoe News.

In Nevada, the law is to take the length of a boat and times it by five to know how many feet away the boats should be from each other. If a personal watercraft is 10-feet-long, then it should be no closer than 50 feet from the next boat.

“They were a little too close together. We are not exactly sure what happened. At some point they collided,” Lyngar said. “We have taken possession of the two watercraft. We are looking at them trying to reconstruct what was happening.”

Alcohol is not believed to be a factor. Lyngar said it’s possible a citation could be issued for not keeping the proper distance or recklessness.

“The best way to stay safe is to take a boating education class even if you rent for the day. The more you know, the safer you will be,” Lyngar said.


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Comments (13)
  1. MTT says - Posted: July 25, 2013

    I would think issuing a citation to a 21 year old woman who was involved in a boating accident that KILLED HER MOTHER. would be?

  2. Nancy says - Posted: July 25, 2013

    I cannot believe they would issue a citation to this 21 year old girl who will live with terrible guilt the rest of her life over this accident. What a weird way to make an example of her. I hope with that citation they also are willing to pay for therapy!

  3. Pam says - Posted: July 25, 2013

    Of course the daughter is traumatized but it doesn’t negate the fact that she didn’t obey the law or common sense.

  4. john says - Posted: July 25, 2013

    To even mention issuing a citation to this poor girl is ludicrous.
    Do the places renting the watercraft give basic maritime safety and regulation instruction? If not there the first thing that should be addressed

  5. John S says - Posted: July 25, 2013

    MTT — That would be callous and cruel.

    /just sayin’

  6. MTT says - Posted: July 25, 2013

    Thanks John

  7. copper says - Posted: July 25, 2013

    I was taught over 40 years ago that the first consideration when making an arrest, or issuing a citation (legally the same thing) where there is some question of justice is whether or not the needs of the public and law enforcement are served.

    That said, I suspect that the need to complete an investigation rather than some indecision over whether to prosecute is mostly responsible for the tone of this story. As much as I love Kae and Lake Tahoe News, they need to stay centered and avoid the trap of making more out of a story before, or until, it’s actually there.

  8. kmarie says - Posted: July 26, 2013

    I just want to say that I am so sorry for the family to have this tragic event happen to them. Life will never be the same and a young woman will be scarred for life. To place blame is not the answer here, even including the ski boat rental, but that a family is torn apart forever. Please everyone, don’t make this about law enforcement and what they are going to do about, that wasn’t even decided in this article. The attention and concern belongs to this family. My thoughts,my heart and my prayers go out to them. <3

  9. Gianna Simone says - Posted: July 26, 2013

    I personally know Ms. Finn and her family, and this is the most tragic situation I have ever seen. I hope they don’t issue a citation, her daughter is devastated and will have a long road in learning how to deal with this, if she is ever truly able to deal at all. The entire family is reeling, this hole in their lives and hearts will never go away.

    It was a tragic accident and should be treated as such.

  10. observer says - Posted: July 26, 2013

    Come on people, give it a rest. Let these people alone.

    Why does our culture always need to assign blame for everything?

    Tragic, yes. Will this always be associated with guilt by the survivor? Of course, she will be playing would have/could have/should have for the rest of her life.

    Was it an accident? Certainly. They were not playing bumper boats.

    Accidents often have no fault, no blame. Is an error in judgement a crime?

    Why assume the survivor was at fault, when it is stated no one really knows yet exactly what happened, and what does it mean anyhow?

    Will a citation bring any closure, other than give a few bucks to the county? NO.

    Speaking to the law, think about how ridiculous it is to apply the 50 foot guideline to very small water craft which, depending on the model can turn on a dime, and go 50 plus miles per hour. Some Personal watercraft have over 200 horsepower. Oh yeah, maybe we need a new law just for these vehicles. We can always use a few new laws to attempt the impossible task of legislating common sense and ordinary caution.

  11. Alex Campbell says - Posted: July 27, 2013

    Anyone! Did a family member own the watercraft or were
    they rented ?

  12. MTT says - Posted: July 31, 2013

    I got a description of what happened from an eye witness who was standing on the Pier next to Lone Eagle Grill.

    The mother and dauhter were enjoying the rented Wave runners just off shore near the pier. The Daughter Hit her own wake, or a boat wake and was trown off balance causing her to both turn abruptly and accelerate quickly. She hit her mothers Wave runner almost head on. the front of the daughter Wave runner hit the mom face first. There were off duty Medical personnel near by the mom was brought to the pier quickly. and alive. We know the rest.

    On a side note I understand the Hyatt did not change the family for the canceled wedding. The deceased was the Sister of the Bride to be.

    Needless to say a fatality on a wave runner in N Tahoe is Very very rare. It was hard on everyone involved in Incline.

    ( all second hand over the phone) but what was described to me seems to ring true)

  13. Anonymous says - Posted: August 2, 2013

    It was an accident. No blame for this can be made. God bless the family who have lost their loved one.