DEEP: Newtown boat accident marks 6th boating fatality in 2017

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OLD LYME – A Tuesday night crash on Zoar Lake in Newtown marked the sixth boating fatality in Connecticut this year, according to the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP).

It’s prompting safety reminders for boaters on Connecticut’s lakes and throughout Long Island Sound.

Mark Chanski, a boating research technician at DEEP, travels the entire state talking to boaters on the water about safety and educating them about the laws.

“We try to make it a fun learning experience. We’re not there to hand out tickets. We want to prevent people from getting tickets and make sure everybody goes out, has a good time, and comes home,” said Chanski.

He said the boating division uses the phrase, “boating is serious fun” because there are serious dangers out there and boaters have to take precautions. Boaters should watch their speed, especially when boating at night when your depth perception may be off and it may be very difficult to see.

Boaters shouldn’t consume alcohol or use drugs. Boating under the influence is a major cause of accidents nationwide.

Although state law does not require adults to wear their life jackets at all times and only mandates a life jacket for every adult be on board, Chanski said wearing one could be the difference between life and death. Children under 13 are required to wear life vests while boating.

“It’s surprising how many people are not wearing life jackets,” said Chanski. “It just takes a split second. You know, somebody once said grabbing your life jacket before a boating accident is like trying to put your seat belt on before you hit something in the car.”

Boaters should also be aware of the weather before heading out, and make sure someone on land is aware of your plans.

For more information about safe boating, click here.