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Memorial Day weekend underway: Experts remind boaters to navigate waters safely

According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, boating incidents were up 16% in 2020 compared to the previous year.
According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, boating incidents were up 16% in 2020 compared to the previous year.

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.

RELATED: Father, 2 children separated from boat ‘alive’ & ‘well,’ Jacksonville Fire Rescue says

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.

RELATED: FWC looking for impaired boaters during Memorial Day Weekend

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.


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