DNR: At least 9 boating deaths this year in Wisconsin
MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - A look back at this year’s boating season offers new insight on the tragedies that have happened on water.
The latest data from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resource website show nine total boating deaths recorded this year, between May and August 1. Recreation Warden Nick Webster said the number is expected to go up based on new information in the past few days.
He did not share more details about those cases but said one of them is still early in the investigation.
Among the nine fatalities, all victims were adults. They were men between 30 and 71 years old, a trend which Webster says is different from other years when children were also victims.
According to DNR data, five of the nine boating victims were not wearing life jackets. For the remaining four people, no confirmation about life jacket use has been made.
“I’ve heard adults tell me in the past that they’re they’re strong enough swimmers, [that] they don’t need to worry about it,” Webster said. “I mean, the strongest swimmers can still have accidents. Stuff can still happen that you don’t expect.”
Circumstances leading up to the season’s boating deaths include a July incident on Big Green Lake, where a man jumped into the water but did not return like the rest of his group. On Silver Lake, one fisherman drowned after he dove in to rescue another.
“They’re always nice days out on the water that, unfortunately, end tragically,” Cory Knapp, a sheriff’s deputy at Dane Co. Sheriff’s Office, said. The agency has not reported any boating deaths this year.
“On a typical day probably 80 percent of the boaters aren’t wearing life jackets,” he said, based on his own observation. The law requires boaters to have life jackets nearby. It does not require boaters to wear them.
“The reality of it is, once you realize you need a life jacket, it’s too late to reach for it,” Webster said. “It’s too late to try to put it on.”
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