Officials educating boaters on Sophia's Law as boating season begins

- Memorial Day weekend is the unofficial start of the summer boating season.

The Hennepin County Sheriff's Water Patrol will be out in full force educating boaters about a new law that took effect this year.

Two years ago, seven-year-old Sophia Baechler died from carbon monoxide poisoning while napping on her family's boat on Lake Minnetonka.

Last year, the legislature passed Sophia's Law, which requires boats with cabins to have a carbon monoxide detector, and gas powered boats longer than 19 feet with any type of enclosure to display stickers warning about the dangers of the silent, odorless gas.

"We don't need a repeat of that tragic incident. One was more than we should have had. Hopefully, we can get through this year installing a carbon monoxide detector and making sure they are safe," Hennepin County Sheriff's Water Patrol Lt Steve Tate said.

Since the law just went into effect May 1, deputies with the Hennepin County Sheriff's Water Patrol are out warning boaters about the new law.

Minnesota is the first state in the country to require CO detectors on certain boats.

"Our goal is to change behavior and make sure people are behaving safely out here," Lt Tate said.

Tim Lindeman of Victoria and his family enjoy spending their weekends out on the water.

But they never leave shore without the carbon monoxide detectors hanging on the walls of their boat's cabin just below deck.

"You have them in your house. Why wouldn't you have them here?" Lindeman said.

Boaters who violate Sophia's Law will eventually be ticketed with a misdemeanor, but the Water Patrol says it will be spending most of this summer educating boaters and won't be handing out tickets until next year.

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