Maryland boating death rate worries officials

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Boating deaths in Maryland have reached their highest level in more than a decade, with 20 so far this year, but authorities say they can't find any explanation for the increase other than nice weather.

“Boating is a recreational activity, and when the weather is good and conducive to boating we're going to find a lot more activity,” Sgt. Art Windemuth, a spokesman for the Natural Resources Police, told the Baltimore Sun newspaper.

But Windemuth said insufficient attention to safety also has been a factor. Life jackets weren't worn by 18 of the 20 people who died, he said, and alcohol was involved in some cases.

One thing the accidents have in common is that all of them could have been prevented, said Chris Edmonston, an Annapolis resident who is president of the non-profit BoatUS Foundation.

“Just a little bit more forethought and more careful planning would go a long way in keeping some of these people alive,” he told the newspaper.

Since 2001, Maryland has averaged about 13 boating fatalities a year, according to state statistics. The low point was 2006, with eight, and the previous high was 17, in 2009.

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