Alcohol blamed in part for increased boating deaths in Florida

Author: WTSP
Published: Updated:

Experienced boater Eric Watters has seen it all.

“We’ve had instances where pro football players have been offshore in boats and their boats have capsized. Because as mariners they didn’t have the proper gear and training,” Watters said.

He says he’s had a boater pull right in front of him before, and has heard of people doing worse.

“There’s been two fatalities of people from the beach area at night. They hit a sea wall or marker and people have been killed that way,” Watters said.

Major Roger Young says he’s seen his share of boating mistakes too.

“They lose track of their surroundings,” Young said. “25 to 30 percent of accidents are because of alcohol. It’s one of the key things we look for. Operating while impaired is illegal.”

A FWC report shows boating accidents are up 14 percent from 2016 to 2017. Last year in Florida, there were 766 incidents and 67 people died as a result of those incidents.

Falls overboard are the leading type of deadly incidents, with drowning as the leading cause of death. Boaters speeding in inlets and passes is another big mistake, along with not wearing a life jacket.

“There’s no seat belts on boats, ejection, you fall out of the boat in some way shape or form and the boat sinks. Obviously that’s why we stress wear a life jacket. It strongly increases the chances of survival,” Young said.

Over 60 percent of all drownings happen because people fail to wear life jackets.

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