CLEARWATER, Fla. – With their boat taking on water, four people called the U.S. Coast Guard for help on Saturday several miles off the coast of Anclote Key.
All four people were successfully rescued from the capsized 19-foot boat by a U.S. Coast Guard JayHawk helicopter crew, according to a U.S. Coast Guard spokesperson.
The accident this weekend is part of a growing problem in Florida, which continues to lead the nation in boating accidents.
Boating accidents are up 7.3 percent nationwide, and boating deaths are up a whopping 12 percent from 2015 to 2016, according to newly-released statistics compiled by the U.S. Coast Guard in their annual report.
There were 684 boating accidents in Florida alone in 2016, up from 671 the year before, and 581 in 2014, according to the report.
Florida had by far the greatest number of boating accidents in 2016 compared to every other state.
What’s more, the U.S. Coast Guard statistics suggest the accidents, and associated deaths, are often avoidable: 83 percent of drowning victims were not wearing a life jacket.
Alcohol is also often a contributing factor, according to the report, associated with 15% of boating deaths, the leading primary cause.