New rules for Tavare's Spring Thunder after fatalities last year

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TAVARES, Fla. —

WFTV has learned that there are new regulations in place for this weekend's Spring Thunder Exhibition in Tavares. During last year's event, three boaters died in accidents on the water.

On Friday, before the weekend festivities kick off, inspectors spent the day checking all the boats and going over a checklist, making sure safety comes first.

"They have always been inspected in the past. As some of these boats get older, they are scrutinized more closely," said Leo Croisetiere, an American Power Boat Association inspector.

The increased inspections before this weekend's Spring Thunder Boat Exhibition come after last year's tragedy when three boaters died during two separate accidents on the water.

"Very, very rare event. To think there were two is just mind-boggling," said Ken Warby, who holds the world record for speed and welcomes the extra precautions this year.

"They double-check, triple-check and then check one more time," said Warby to Eyewitness News Anchor Jorge Estevez alongside the Lake and Wooton Park in Tavares.

The group in charge of the festival will now have more rules under its new management, the 100-year-old American Power Boat Association. Drivers must now pass a physical exam and safety test to qualify, and they will exhibit their boats at slower speeds.

"If we see anything going out there that is not safe, we are going to throw a flare or flag them," said Bill John, president of the Classic Race Boat Association.

Spring Thunder has become a very popular weekend on the water.

"It is a reunion. I haven't seen these people since last year. It's great," said John.

The people who died during last year's event will be remembered during an invocation Saturday.