The family of a 30-year-old man who fell off a canoe and drowned in Mineola Bay in Fox Lake last month is calling for additional safety regulations for waterfront rentals.
On the early morning of September 10, Vinod Deonarine, 30, of Schaumburg, took a canoe trip on Fox Lake with his 45-year-old family friend from Flaeger, Florida.
Kumarie Deonarine, Vinod’s sister, said the man was staying at an Airbnb rental on a canal that opens to the lake.
There was a canoe by the canal ready for use, Kumarie said.
At around 1:30 a.m., Deonarine and his friend paddled out on the lake, enjoying the sight of three shooting stars.
When the two started to paddle back, the canoe capsized in Mineola Bay. They called out for help while in distress.
The Lake County Sheriff’s Office and Fox Lake Police Department received numerous 911 calls reporting a person screaming for help.
Sheriff’s deputies and Fox Lake police officers, along with numerous fire departments, responded to the calls, according to Lake County Sheriff Deputy Chief Christopher Covelli.
Kumarie said the friend was picked up, but Deonarine drowned before rescuers could locate him.
Emergency crews located the man’s body just before 8 a.m., Covelli said.
On behalf of his family, Kumarie called on state senators Tammy Duckworth and Dick Durbin for the enforcement of stricter waterfront rental regulations.
“With over 23,000 rental companies operating in the USA, there is little to no regulation or enforcement of water safety for these properties,” Kumarie said.
“This means that vacation rentals on or near bodies of water can operate without being inspected beforehand for dangers involving water accessibility, national watercraft safety compliance and/or basic safety standards for preventing water injury or death.”
Kumarie said there was “complete negligence” of the rental her brother stayed at.
She said that there were no life jackets or safety equipment on the canoe, the canoe was not locked up, no ladder was present by the canal and the canoe did not have the correct oars.
She also said the rental did not provide any safety information about the lake or the canoe.
“There is no doubt in my mind that my brother would still be here today had there been a life jacket on that canoe,” Kumarie said. “The complete negligence of the rental was unbelievable.”
Kumarie said that simple requirements can be enforced to prevent future accidents from happening.
She said an annual inspection, permit renewals, required safety information, equipment checks and addressing accessibility issues can help.
Kumarie added that although there are safety regulations that prevent injury or death by water when installing pools, such protocols are not often enforced for rental properties with access to bodies of water.
Kumarie said her brother was an engineer with a promising future. She said he was a kind, caring and helpful person.
“There is nothing I can do to bring my brother back but there is something we all can do to prevent this from happening to other people. People who are loved, our family and friends,” Kumarie said.
“There should be at least a set of safety requirements for rentals on a body of water, especially if they offer watercrafts for use. This seems like an obvious solution to an obvious problem, yet there are no laws or regulations in place to govern these rental properties in these matters.”
Just under 300 people signed an online petition as of Sunday.