BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) — With summer temperatures hitting hard, many people are hitting the waterways but unfortunately what was supposed to be a fun activity for three boaters ended tragically.
Boaters drowning is a growing trend, according to officials with the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries.
“I know in my region alone I’ve had six drownings so far this year, six fatalities compared to last year [when] I might have had one or two,” said Captain Len Yokum with the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries. “People are getting complacent on the water.”
Just this week, the bodies of three men were recovered from Lake Maurepas after they jumped into the lake one after the other to try to save each other from drowning.
“They really didn’t know what they were diving into,” said Yokum. “It’s probably one of the worst parts of our job having to do that, and then returning to the bank or the shoreline and to the boat launch and look the loved ones, the family in the face.”
Rough waters and an undercurrent carried the three men to their death. Yokum said even for the strongest swimmers, it’s important to know the condition of the waters.
“You might be able to see what’s going on at the surface but you don’t know what’s going on underneath. Don’t think that the waters are going to stay the same all the time, because they change on a daily basis,” said Yokum.
According to the CDC, Louisiana has the third highest drowning rate in the nation. When it comes to boaters, Yokum said wearing a life jacket should be a top priority.
“Even if you just have it wrapped under your arm, just something to be able to assist you in floating. All the ones that were in my region, all six, they were not using a life jacket,” said Yokum.
In addition to wearing a life jacket, Yokum said to make sure to have a throwable device on board as well and it should be your first option before jumping in to help.
“Boats are supposed to have this, whether it be a throw ring or a seat cushion,” said Yokum.