Derek Salas, 20, of Silver Spring, died when the jet ski he was riding collided with another. Photo: GoFundMe

Md. Man, 20, Dies in Eastern Shore Jet Ski Collision

A young man has died after he collided with another jet skiier on Sinepuxent Bay near Ocean City, Md.

Maryland Natural Resources Police (NRP) say around 3:15 in the afternoon on Memorial Day, 20-year-old Derek Salas and another young man were operating personal watercraft at a high rate of speed close together.

Suddenly, the vessels collided, and police say Salas and his jet ski both went airborne. When he was pulled from the water, the Silver Spring man was breathing but unconscious. He died on the way to the hospital.

A GoFundMe page to help Salas’s family pay for funeral expenses has already raised more than $11,400. On the page, his sister, Nathaly Salas, writes, “Derek was 20 years old, an easy going and adventurous soul, kindhearted and loved by many … His family and friends in the U.S. and Colombia are grappling with this enormous loss.”

NRP reminds us this boating season that while personal watercraft are popular, they can be risky. “Inexperienced operators may not always recognize potential dangers and consequently are involved in a high percentage of accidents, most of which are collisions,” NRP writes.

According to the National Marine Manufacturer’s Association, personal watercraft accounted for 25.9% of new boat sales nationwide in 2020, the last year of available data.

To practice responsible jet ski operating, police remind everyone to wear a life jacket as required by law, avoid weaving through congested areas on the water and driving recklessly. Riders should also avoid speeding in restricted areas, look in all directions (not just forward), and always operate jet skis sober.

-Meg Walburn Viviano