Spike in water deaths in Alaska

    Juneau, Alaska (KINY) The Alaska Marine Safety Education Association reported 21 non-commercial fatalities on Alaskan waters in 2016.

    Deaths on Alaskan waters are on the rise over the past 18 months.  Executive Director Jerry Dzugan said the numbers are high this year, "We had 21 non commercial boating fatalities in 2016.  Those numbers include Alaska and US Coast Guard numbers.  We use all the numbers.  We don't care if the deaths occurred on state or federal waters.  So far this year the numbers are higher."

    There have been 12 commercial fishing deaths so far this year in Alaska.  Dzugan said swamping is a leading cause, "Overloading the boat is a cause, also alcohol plays a role in at least 25% of the cases, not paying attention to weather.   There are a variety of causes."

    Southeast Alaska had the highest number, seven, last year.  "We have a longer season here.  They are on the water more.  They have more of an opportunity to get into trouble.  Also high on the list of causes is people not wearing life jackets."

    Dzugan said there is no good excuse for not wearing a personal flotation device because there are good, attractive products on the market that look fashionable and are safe.

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