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On Minnesota lakes this summer, more boaters and quite a few accidents

Sep 05, 2020 06:03AM ● By Editor

Watch the KARE 11 Report here

By Jennifer Austin of KARE 11 News - September 4, 2020 

Lake Minnetonka is busy any summer, but this year DNR conservation officer Arnaud Kpachavi says he's seen a noticeable difference. 

"Out here on Minnetonka, we’re seeing hundreds of boats, sometimes thousands of boats," said Kpachavi. "There have been a ton of boats this year and a ton of new boaters this year."

Kpachavi and others at the DNR think a lot of the traffic, being seen on lakes statewide, has to do with the pandemic. The DNR says new motorboat registration is up by more than 1,100 from last year. 

"With kind of being stuck inside, people are looking to get out and try something new," Kpachavi said. 

While there's certainly nothing wrong with trying something new, Kpachavi says the sheer number of people, combine with some who are new to boating, has been causing problems on the water. 

"We’ve had a ton of accidents this year and a ton of fatalities. It’s not the highest year ever, but it’s getting up there," he said.

The DNR says 13 people statewide have died in boating accidents so far in 2020, which is tied for the year with the second highest number of boating deaths in the last decade. 

Kpachavi says many of the violations he's witnessed involve speeding, registration issues, and forgetting life jackets. 

"It might seem like a small violation at the time, but when you're in a boat there are no safety devices, seat belts, air bags, nothing," he said. "One small mistake can lead to an accident."

According to the DNR, many of the 13 boating deaths this year involved people who weren't wearing life jackets. 

To watch the original story and see related reporting, follow this link to the KARE-11 website.