Seventeen: the number of lives lost due to boating accidents on Maryland's waterways this year.Honestly, I doubt it will help very much in emergency situations; much like cops on land, when seconds count, the fish cops are only a half hour away (or more). But a concerted effort to get people to wear, or at least possess and know how to use PFDs might pay off in the long run.
On Friday, Lt. Col. Ken Ziegler, the acting supervisor of the state's Natural Resources Police, announced plans to try and curb that number before the summer boating season ends. Starting this weekend, Natural Resources Police will place additional patrols on the water and will deploy its reserve officers to the state's busiest marina's and boat ramps to give free safety inspections.
The campaign will remain until Labor Day, the unofficial close of the summer boating season.
"Any where we think we'll need to be – we'll be," Ziegler said.
The additional patrols and Friday's press conference were in response to a spike in boating deaths this year. So far in 2015, there have been five more boating deaths than there were in 2014, NRP spokeswoman Candy Thomson said.
With weeks left in the summer boating season, the number is two less than the deadliest years on record. In 1996 and 2011, there were 19 boating deaths, Thomson said.
Though officers will be deployed throughout the state, Ziegler made clear one area where officers will definitely be: the Chesapeake Bay. Just last Sunday Adrian Perez, 46, of Upper Marlboro was killed after the 17-foot center console motor boat he was aboard sank just north of the Bay Bridge and west of the Bay's main channel.
Fourteen of the seventeen fatal boating accident victims were not wearing personal flotation devices, or PFDs, Ziegler said.But it's probably already to late to keep 2015 out of the record books.