By July, 2013 boating death numbers reach 2012 total - - Columbia, South Carolina |

By July, 2013 boating death numbers reach 2012 total

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The water is popular in South Carolina. Lakes and rivers are where many love to spend their summer.

What is supposed to be fun can turn life-threatening in a matter of seconds. Those working for the Department of Natural Resources see it too often.

"In six months we have got last years total number encompassed and are looking to have a strong year for boating fatalities," said Sergeant Rhett Bickley with the DNR.

Last year there were a total of 14 boating related deaths in South Carolina. That total has already reached 17 in 2013 and its only July.

Drownings seem to be making headlines far too often.

Last month, 17-year-old Waeland Peeples drowned In Lake Murray after jumping off a pontoon boat.

Earlier this month, 44-year-old Michael Thompson was found days after his boat crashed into a log one night on the Wateree River.

Bickley says drownings unrelated to boating are up as well.

"I do dive for our recovery team and we have done more diving for recovery of victims this year than we have last year as well," he said.

There are a number of factors that can make water activities dangerous. Bickley says waterways across the state are high and moving fast because of all the recent rain.

"You also have people that get a little sense of adventure want to see what its like down there to put a boat in and try some of this crazy water and then you have people getting flipped out of boats causing problems with something like that," said Bickley.

Bickley said you should always wear a properly-fitted life jacket and be aware of your surroundings in the water.

"Make sure your conscious about what kind of water you're facing and leave what we call a float plant. Tell someone where you're going and where your going to be putting in at."

Although statewide drowning deaths have risen from last year, some local statistics are down.
DNR says the number of arrests for BUI's, boating under the influence, on Lake Murray have decreased. In 2012 there were a total of 40 and this year so far there have been 17.

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