Seventeen people died in boating accidents in Arkansas last year, according to Capt. Stephanie Weatherington of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission.
Thirteen of them could be alive today if they had been wearing life jackets.
The number of boating mishaps in 2009 was 96, up from 86 accidents in the previous year. In 2007, the state recorded 100 boating accidents.
Weatherington, AGFC's boating law administrator, said drowning took the lives of 13 of those who died in 2009.
Two died of trauma from the accidents, and two bodies have not been recovered. Life jackets were found on only two of the victims. One died from trauma and the other, who was wearing a life jacket, did not have the life jacket zipped.
In all the 96 boating accidents, nearly two-thirds included people not wearing life jackets.
The 96 accidents involved 123 vessels, and 18 of these were personal watercraft. This is a lower ratio of personal watercraft than in past years, Weatherington said.
Weatherington said the primary causes of fatal accidents were falls overboard and overloading or improper loading of boats.
Lake Ouachita with 14 accidents and Beaver Lake with 13 were the areas with the most mishaps. More accidents occurred in June than any other month, and more accidents were on Saturdays than any other day of the week.
Mid-afternoon was the most dangerous time -- from 3 to 4 p.m.