Tennessee sees big spike in number of boating deaths this year

Tennessee News
marina boat boating generic

On August 14, the body of 49-year-old James Looney was recovered from Kentucky Lake after a boating accident threw him into the water days before. 

“They hit something, and the boat made an abrupt turn,” said Matt Majors, boating investigator for the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Commission. 

Aug 19, the body of 53-year-old Roger Balentine was recovered on the Buffalo River after a canoeing accident. 

The next day, a third boater, Christopher Hale was recovered after going missing on Tims Ford Lake. 

“These are not incident numbers to me,” Majors said. “These are real people with real backgrounds, real feelings.” 

Majors says boating fatalities have more than doubled since last year. 

“How could we prevent this?” he asked. 

Since January, 21 people have died in boating accidents in Tennessee, according to Majors. 

Last year this time, Majors says there were nine deaths. 

“We want to do more to lower those numbers,” he said. 

Most of the accidents involved smaller boats. 

“Canoes, kayaks, and paddleboards,” Majors said. 

Majors says none of the three recent victims were wearing life jackets, a piece of gear that could mean the difference between life and death. 

“It is heartbreaking to us,” he said. 

Majors says the TWRA now has two pieces of sonar equipment to help them in underwater search and rescues. 

He says officers have stepped up patrols around lakes and rivers especially around holidays. 

“Our officers give a lot of warnings, some citations,” Majors said. 

But Majors says no matter how many citations and warnings they give boaters still must follow certain guidelines like wearing life jackets and always letting someone know where you are. 

“People are dying from these things, be mindful of that when you go to the lake,” he said. 

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Trending Stories

Don't Miss

Community Calendar