Flagstaff, AZ – A Flagstaff couple whose daughter died of carbon monoxide poisoning last July during a Lake Powell vacation are pushing for new state laws to help save other children from a similar fate.

Jennifer and Matthew Evans persuaded state Rep. Albert Tom, D-Chambers, to sponsor legislation making it a crime for anyone to be in the water near the exhaust pipes of boats while the motor is operating.

Violators could be jailed for up to four months and face fines of up to $750.

But the couple said Tuesday the real heart of the bill is to educate those who own or rent boats of what they said is the hidden danger of carbon monoxide poisoning — the poisoning that claimed the life of 7-year-old Megan Evans.

Matthew Evans said boat manufacturers have known for years about the toxic fumes, with the exhaust pipes often located adjacent to the back of the boat — where people swim or even hang on the back while the craft is moving.

He said the manufacturers have taken some steps to reduce pollutants.

“Problem is, there are thousands and thousands of boats out there that don’t have these safeguards that are in the hands of private owners who don’t have the education,” he said.

“And without something like this particular bill being passed, we’re going to continue to hear stories of families that are suffering like ours.”

To that end, HB2024 would mandate stickers on every new and used motorized watercraft sold in the state warning of the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning.

It also would require the state Game and Fish Department to develop a brochure detailing the problem, with the brochure being provided initially to anyone buying a boat and, eventually, mailed to every boat owner in the state.

Tom said there have been 141 reported deaths nationwide since 1995 due to carbon monoxide poisoning from boat engines, with more than 600 additional cases of people becoming ill.

“Over 40 percent of those poisonings have involved children,” he said.

Tom said the issue is particularly critical in the case of houseboats, which can be rented by tourists so their families have a place to sleep, eat — and let their children swim — while on vacation.