Coast Guard Auxiliary leader seeks to reduce boating deaths

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The new Coast Guard Auxiliary national commodore is charging the Coast Guard Auxiliary with a mission - "to reduce deaths on our waterways."

"We need to recommit ourselves to improving recreational boating safety and making a serious dent in reducing the recreational boating death growth rates," Jim Vass, of Port O'Connor, Texas, said.

In 2009, there was an increase of 3.8 percent in recreational boating deaths because people fail to wear life jackets, are inattentive and consume alcohol while operating boats, according to Vass.

"Nearly 75 percent of the 736 people who died in boating accidents in 2009 drowned and 84 percent of those victims reportedly were not wearing a life jacket," Vass said. "Our waterways should be fun, not places where you lose your life."

Vass began his association with the Coast Guard Auxiliary in 1991 and has held positions at the local, regional and national levels. Most recently, he was the national vice commodore.

The Coast Guard Auxiliary, created by an Act of Congress in 1939, is the uniformed civilian component of the Coast Guard.

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