Minnesota has seen more boating-related deaths this year than any time since 2005.
According to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, 17 people have died in boating-related incidents this year. And with weeks of open water likely left this year, the department predicts that number could increase.
“Too many families have had their lives immeasurably altered while their loved ones were taking part in what should be a fun and memorable activity,” Lisa Dugan, DNR recreation safety outreach coordinator, said in a statement.
Sixteen of the victims were not wearing life jackets, according to the DNR. Falls overboard and boats capsizing are the most common causes of boat-related deaths.
The department also noted that water temperature are beginning to drop below 70 degrees, which classifies it as cold water. Around 30% of boating-related deaths typically occur during the cold water season.
The DNR recommends boaters wear life jackets, make sure to distribute their weight evenly on the boat and tell others where they are. Boaters should also be aware of the temperature and weather and wear an engine cut-off device, the department says.
Among the boating-related deaths this year was a Deerwood man recovered from Little Rabbit Lake earlier last week. Responders were called to search for him Monday night after passerbys noticed his boat drifting unoccupied.