Florida officials encourage boat safety after increase in deaths

The Seminole County Sheriff's Office is working to prevent tragedy on Florida's waterways.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission (FWC) is reporting a spike in boating deaths statewide. And with the Fourth of July holiday approaching, Seminole County Sheriff Dennis Lemma wants people to be careful and practice the right safety protocols and be familiar with the waterways.

According to the FWC, the state had 79 boating deaths in 2020, which is an increase of 20 percent. Six of them happened in Seminole County. Most recently, a missing boater drowned on Lake Osceola in Orange County. Also, a 17-year-old fell off a jet ski and drowned on Lake Down in Windermere.

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Officials say that the main causes of death are excessive speed and driver impairment. They say not wearing a life jacket or the inability to swim also played a role in the spike. 

Sheriff Lemma warned that law enforcement will be out on the lakes and rivers over Independence Day weekend to ensure that everyone is staying safe. 

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