Spike in boating deaths has police concerned

ORILLIA – On the eve of the Victoria Day weekend, provincial police are drawing attention to their concern over a spike in boating-related deaths.

Eight people have died on the water this year – almost three times as many at this point in 2015.

In all cases this year, none of the canoeists or kayakers was wearing a lifejacket and most of them likely involved alcohol.

In all cases, their vessels either capsized or they fell overboard and most of the victims were in their 20s.

“A significant number of the boating deaths we investigate every year involve canoes and kayaks. Because the victims were not wearing a lifejacket, the majority of them died either because they could not swim, the water was too cold or they were impaired by alcohol or drugs,” O.P.P. Deputy Commissioner Brad Blair said.

“I cannot stress enough how significantly a properly worn lifejacket improves your chance of survival when you are in any type of boat and suddenly find yourself in the water,” he said.

This is also the day before Safe Boating Awareness Week, which runs May 21-27, 2016.