Last year Florida boating deaths rose to the highest level in 10 years, mostly because of an increase in the number of victims falling overboard.
Eighty people died in 69 accidents last year, a 15-percent increase from 2004, according to the 2005 Boating Accident Statistical Report from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
Falls overboard increased 53 percent from the previous year, resulting in 29 accidents and 30 victims. The report also shows that 69 percent of fatal falls occurred on calm, inland waters; 93 percent of the victims drowned and none was wearing or using a life jacket.
“We are very concerned about the upward trend in boating fatalities, especially given the fact the vast majority of these are easily preventable,” said FWC Capt. Richard Moore, Florida’s boating law administrator, in a statement.
“The simple act of wearing a life jacket is your best insurance on the water,” he said. “Our stats show that it’s mostly swimmers who are drowning when they unexpectedly end up in the water.”