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I-Team: Florida leads nation in boating accidents

Posted at 11:40 AM, Jun 30, 2016
Chad Angell was close to becoming a deadly statistic in a recent boating accident in St. Petersburg.
 
"As he was getting closer I'm like, 'Holy crap, he's gonna be close,'" he told us.
 
Chad was waiting out the heavy winds with two friends on this boat. They were at idle speed.  All of a sudden this other boat started getting closer and closer.
 
"It just happened so quick, I mean literally!" Chad said.
 
Chad turned and the boat hit his back. He was severely bruised from his lower back to his thighs.
 
There were two men on the boat that hit him. One died, the other was injured.
 
"It's scary. I mean, if he hit us 10 degrees differently he could have been on the back of the boat with us and we could've been dead," Chad said.
 
Florida leads the nation in boating accidents.
 
According to Florida Fish and Wildlife's annual report, there were 737 boating accidents last year. That's up from 634 the year before.
 
Of the accidents last year, 55 people died.
 
The I-Team looked into every boating accident in the last year and a half.
 
We put every one of them on a map.
 

Legend
 
Pinellas and Sarasota counties rank in Florida's top 11 for the most boating accidents.
 
Some of the hot spots for accidents appears to be in upper Boca Ciega Bay and off the coast of Clearwater.
            
Officer James Boogartes with Florida Fish and Wildlife says that's partly because those areas have sand bars, but the majority of accidents come from inexperience.
 
"Approximately 72 percent of our fatal boating accidents, the operator had no formal boating education," Boogartes tells us.
 
Officers are already out educating boaters how to be safe. Officers say they need the right amount of life jackets, a working fire extinguisher, and a whistle or noisemaker.
 
Chad said it only takes a fraction of a second for a situation to turn deadly on the water.
 
"We all like to boat, and we all enjoy it out there. And it's a good time, but people can die and it's not hard," Chad said.