Time High – KXTV, Sacramento, CA. – According to a new report by the state Department of Boating and Waterways, more boaters were killed in California waters during 2003 than any year on record.

Statewide, privately owned boats were involved in 963 accidents, resulting in 502 injuries and 61 deaths. The report indicated that alcohol was involved in 21 percent of the fatalities.

Drowning was the cause of 61 percent of the fatalities. Only one of those who drowned was wearing a life jacket. Other causes of death included trauma (30 percent) and carbon monoxide poisoning (5 percent).

According to the report, Northern California lakes are the most dangerous place to operate a boat, accounting for 312 of the 502 reported accidents. A total of 34 accidents occurred in Northern California rivers, while 95 happened in the Delta.

Actual Report

Carbon Monoxide-Related Fatalities

The inhalation of carbon monoxide fumes was a factor in four fatalities in 2003.During the last several years, some victims have died as a result of carbon monoxide poisoning.Dangerous behaviors include:

–Leaning over the stern of the vessel while the engine is engaged

–Teak surfing (body surfing by holding onto the swim step of a vessel that is under way and then letting go and surfing the vessel’s wake.)

–Improper ventilation in an enclosed cabin

–Swimming near the stern of a vessel whose engine is engaged.

Boating fatalities involving carbon monoxide may be much higher than reported.In the past, some drowning accidents thought to be swimming-related may have involved carbon monoxide.The Department is increasing educational efforts to educate boaters and accident investigators about carbon monoxide in the boating environment.

They also say they are now recording CO accidents better by training staff how to detect a CO case.