Boating deaths in Ohio reach all-time low

COLUMBUS, Ohio - The number of deaths due to recreational boating accidents in the state of Ohio reached a record low in 2004, with seven people killed during the year, the Toledo Blade reported in a story today.

The seven deaths in 2004 were the lowest number of fatalities in a single year since the Ohio Department of Natural Resources' Division of Watercraft was formed in 1960 and began keeping records. During 2003, 19 people died, according to the newspaper.

The previous record low was 10 fatalities in 1996. The record high was 73 deaths in 1973, John Wisse, Division of Watercraft spokesman, told the Blade.

Wisse said one factor in the low number of deaths was that "the weather was not real conducive to a lot of boating activity. However, the drop in the number of deaths “reflects a continued and very long-term trend," Wisse commented.

He attributed the trend to increased boater safety education, increased law enforcement, and increased public awareness.

"You don't want to see anybody die in a boating-related accident, but the fact that the number dropped [in 2004] is good for the entire boating community," Wisse told the newspaper.

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