LAKE NORMAN, NC (WJZY) — With Labor Day being called the unofficial end of summer, many boaters took to the lakes for one final ride on the water. Officials say it was a very dangerous summer with at least 12 drownings on area lakes. Officials also say no one was wearing life jackets. Boaters and first responders say there is something they learned.
The waters of Lake Norman will become more calm heading into fall, but boaters are still talking about the deadly summer.
“There has been an extremely high number of drownings this summer, I don’t know what’s going on,” said Byard Stevens.
FOX 46 Charlotte went out on patrol with NC Fish and Wildlife officers. They found a number of issues, many boaters didn’t have the proper registration stickers.
Officer say an even bigger concern is making sure boats have enough life jackets on board for each rider.
“This summer, it was a busy summer, unfortunately we had a lot of drownings. Biggest thing, biggest issue, biggest concern is wearing of the life jacket,” said NC Fish & Wildlife Officers.
In North Carolina, wearing a life jacket is only required for those 13 and under. That means many boats have the life saving device, but they are rarely if ever used.
“Most of the time, people aren’t wearing life jackets. They have them in the boat. A lot of times what we see is the life jackets are stored under the seat. There are not very accessible,” said Officers.
Although it’s not a law, Officers recommend using a life jacket whenever entering the water. After a summer with so many drownings, that’s just what some boaters say they’ll do.
“When you are in the water floating around or bobbing around everyone has to have something. A noodle, a lifejacket as a diaper, whatever. You gotta have something on as a flotation device,” said Bryard Stevens.
Because of the holiday weekend a breathalyzer station was brought to Lake Norman. Officers say it makes it easier for them to administer a breathalyzer test to boaters instead of driving them back into town, they can do it right on shore.