Boaters urged to use caution after increase in Indiana boating deaths

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HAMILTON COUNTY, Ind. (May 15, 2015)-- There are serious concerns heading into boating season as deaths in Indiana were up last year. According to the Coast Guard, there were nine boating deaths in the state in 2013. The year before, there were five.

"It tell me our boaters need to use more common sense than they're currently using," said Captain John Mehling with the Fishers Fire Department.

Both the fire department and Fishers police department have crews that patrol Geist Reservoir. Mehling said among his biggest concerns is alcohol. It was a factor in five out of the nine deaths last year.

"Drinking is always an issue on the water," he said. "If you're out on a boat, you need to have a designated driver. If you get pulled over by the police, they can test you and you may be arrested."

At Eagle Creek Reservoir, there is a 10 horsepower limit for boaters. Pike Township Fire Chief Robert Saunders said his biggest message to boaters is to use a life jacket. You must have a life jacket for everyone on board your boat. You don't have to wear it, but Saunders urged that you do as it could prevent death.

"Going under water decreases the chances of survival just immensely... so wearing those life jackets is really the number one piece of advice I can give to anybody," he said.

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