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2014 North Carolina boating accident report released

As the weather heats up, outdoor enthusiasts across the state are flocking to the many waterways to soak up the sun or cast a line off of their boats.

The North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission recently released its report of the total boating accidents in 2014.

Stateside, there were 130 total accidents involving watercraft last year. A total of 176 vessels were involved, with 93 individuals needing medical aid. There were also 23 separate fatal events that claimed 27 lives.

Last year, Lake Norman had 13 accidents on its waters, a slight dip from the year before with 14. It was ranked second after the Intracoastal Waterway led the group with 18. During 2014, there were two fatal incidents involving boats on Lake Norman.

Most boating fatalities occur when the victim either inadvertently falls into or intentionally enters the water. In 44 of the accidents where no one was killed, the boats either collided with another watercraft or struck a stationary object.

Other factors in nonfatal accidents on the water include:

-- Speeding

-- Reckless or careless operation

-- Operator inattention

-- Inexperienced boaters

-- Machine failures

-- Problems involving the hull or other equipment

The North Carolina boating safety coordinator encouraged those who venture out on the water to wear their life vests to reduce their risk of injury or death.

Boating can be a great deal of fun and a great way to relax. However, those at the helm of the boat must exercise prudence and caution while out on the water. A fatal boating accident or one causing injuries can result in severe criminal charges being levied against the boat's operator. Additionally, even when no criminal charges arise, civil litigation can be filed against them seeking financial compensation based on negligence and other factors.

Source: The Charlotte Observer, "2014 report: 13 boating accidents in Lake Norman," Gus Gustafson, April. 23, 2015

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