Marine fatalities on OPP-patrolled waterways up 70 per cent this year over last

Of those people who died, OPP say 82 per cent were not wearing a life jacket

Ignoring water safety has had deadly consequences on provincial waterways this year.

Ontario Provincial Police said there has been a 70 per cent increase over last year in marine fatalities.

“17 people have already died this year on the water patrolled by the OPP,” said Sgt. Kerry Schmidt. “Of those people who died, 82 per cent of them were not wearing a life jacket.”

Schmidt warned if you come out of your boat, a canoe, a kayak and go under water, or if you don’t know how to swim or get caught by surprise, even hit a rock or shoal, you may not surface. He said life jackets are there to save lives and keep a person’s head up, and hopefully a person’s airway open.

“You can wear an inflatable life jacket that really does not impede you in anyway.”

Police have seen more new boaters who may not have been on the water very much.

“Know how to reboard your vessel,” said Schmidt. “If you capsize your boat because it’s overloaded, the ability for you to reboard and refloat your boat is going to be very challenging.”

The OPP have also had to deal with boat collisions and other water tragedies which police said has left people with life-altering injuries.