By Bill Hudson

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — He’s fighting cancer, but former U.S. Senator Norm Coleman says he dodged a different danger this weekend.

On Facebook, he wrote that he was broadsided by another fishing boat on Lake Ada in Northern Minnesota Saturday morning. In his post, you can see the big dent and damage to his boat.

Coleman said he was tossed into the water, he was wearing an auto-inflate life fest, which worked.

“Had he not been wearing it you don’t know what the outcome might have been,” said Lisa Dugan.

Dugan is the DNR’s boat and water safety expert. The senator says he dove into the water just before impact, when his auto-inflating life vest activated, keeping him afloat.

“New life jacket styles take away all the excuses of why people don’t wear life jackets” said Dugan. “They are slim, they’re easy to put on, easy to use and you forget you even have them on.”

State law requires there be a PFD aboard for every person on the boat, but there’s nothing in the current law that requires you to wear it, with the exception of a child under the age of 10.

Hennepin County Water Patrol deputy, Alan Lange says auto inflating vests are getting more popular. Besides offering greater comfort, they’ll inflate on their own when they hit the water, saving an unconscious boater.

“Wear your vest because you never know when you’re going to be in an accident. Most people who end up in the water did not intend to go in the water,” said Lange.

Like a former U.S. Senator out for a peaceful morning of fishing, who made a life saving decision before ever leaving shore.

“The most important life vest is the one you actually weaR,” said Dugan.

Already this season, four people have lost their lives drowning in Minnesota lakes.

The DNR hopes boaters will heed the warnings heading into the busy Fourth of July holiday week.

Bill Hudson