JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – With the unofficial start to summer upon us, many folks are spending this Memorial Day weekend out on a boat.
According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, boating incidents were up 16% in 2020 compared to the previous year.
In 2020, 79 people died in 836 boating crashes in Florida. According to data from the FWC, 402 reported boating incidents involved collisions and 44% of those incidents were due to operator’s inattention or failing to maintain a proper lookout.
Gregory Johnson had a warning for others out on the water this weekend, as he donned his own life jacket before taking off on his jet-ski.
“Nothing like not having a life jacket, falling and drowning. It’s two things you can’t grab ahold of. I advise everyone to have a life jacket and have one with them,” Johnson said.
Since 2003, falling overboard and drowning is the leading cause of death in boating incidents -- 88% of those victims were not wearing a life jacket.
Also, of concern, boating while buzzed. According to FWC, alcohol or drugs were involved in 23% of boating death incidents in 2020.
Agencies say they will be cracking down on boaters under the influence this holiday weekend to ensure everyone has a fun and safe Memorial Day.
“On our waterways, be safe, have your safety equipment and try to boat sober,” said Sgt. Joshua Underwood with St. Johns County’s Air & Marine Operations.