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Boating safety stressed after deadly accident

Posted at 7:10 PM, Oct 19, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-19 19:10:18-04

A fatal boating accident on the Caloosahatchee River Thursday is a tragic reminder of the need for safety on the water. Florida Fish and Wildlife officers say John Cobb, 60, was thrown from his boat into the river near the U.S. 41 bridge, after his 20-foot boat hit the wake of another vessel. Rescuers searched for hours, eventually finding his body around 6:45 p.m.

Sergeant Dave Bruening, a marine patrol deputy with the Collier County Sheriff's Office, says wearing a life jacket is key to surviving a boating collision, which can be otherwise fatal - even for an experienced boater or swimmer.

"In the event that you are knocked unconscious and go face down in the water, that life jacket could hopefully roll you over and save your life," Bruening said.

He said that personal locator beacons are also invaluable life-saving devices. They can help rescuers pinpoint the location of someone who has gone into the water, even if they are far from shore.

"The price point has come way down on personal locator beacons," Bruening said. "They've gotten very affordable, so it can't hurt to take one on board with you."

Bruening also urges boaters to file a float plan before heading out on the water - by simply telling friends or family where they will launch their boat, the general area they plan to travel, and what time they expect to return.