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Boating deaths down drastically after 29 last year

10 months 3 days 17 hours ago Friday, July 21 2023 Jul 21, 2023 July 21, 2023 9:34 PM July 21, 2023 in News
Source: WBRZ

BATON ROUGE - Boating is a staple in Louisiana, but it comes with risks; last year proved just how easily a simple day on the water can turn deadly.

"It was a crazy and hectic year last year because of the fatalities," Sergeant Mason Spillman with Wildlife and Fisheries told WBRZ.

This summer, it's a different story. Six people have died on the waterways, which is a significant drop from 29 last year.

Wildlife and Fisheries tell WBRZ some of those deaths happened last year because of boaters driving drunk.

The most high profile death last year was when 17-year-old Madison Bradley died on Blind River after falling off a pontoon boat and into the water. She was reportedly hit with the boats propeller.

The driver of the boat Madison was on was charged with negligent homicide and driving a vessel while impaired.

"We looked at last year and last summer specifically and you asked yourself, 'Why is this happening?'," Spillman said.

This year, Wildlife and Fisheries say they have increased their patrols on the water. They say having more of a presence on the water is likely helping their message of safe boating resonate.

"This summer, I have seen fewer impaired drivers on the waterways, and that is all inclusive with why numbers of fatalities has gone down," Spillman said.

Spillman says the waterways are just as busy this year as they were last year, despite the extreme heat. He said the death toll being at six shows an increase in boater safety on the water.

"That's lower than what I have normally seen in my eight years," Spillman said.

Even though the summer isn't over yet, Spillman wants to emphasize boater safety to keep the death toll low.

There will be a boating safety class Saturday morning at 8 a.m. at Wildlife and Fisheries Headquarters in Baton Rouge.

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