WAKE FOREST, N.C. (WNCN) – Emergency and park officials are reminding the community of the importance of life jackets after two separate drowning incidents on Sunday evening.
Wake County responders recovered the body of 35-year-old Dimitrio Lopez-Perez from Falls Lake after he and two other men flipped over in their canoe.
“They were in a small canoe that was not designed for the number of people they had in the boat,” said Jonathan Hans from the Northern Wake Fire Department.
Hans says they believe there were no lifejackets on board at the time of the flip. That same night, Chatham County emergency crews found the body of 73-year-old Donald Semler from Jordan Lake. It has not been stated whether Semler was wearing a life vest.
Hans says it is essential for those not fully comfortable on the water to wear a life jacket. It is best to find one well-fitted for the person and the activity, but the U.S. Coast Guard says the best life jacket is the one you’re wearing. This means that any life jacket is better than nothing. At Falls Lake, there are life vests available for visitors to borrow.
“Life jackets are like a seatbelt in the car. You don’t put your seatbelt on expecting to get in a crash that day. You were it just in case. Life jackets should be the same thing,” said David Mumford, the Falls Lake superintendent.
In North Carolina, boats, including kayaks and canoes, are required to have a personal flotation device, which is a life jacket, for every person on board. But, Mumford says that may not be enough.
“If something happens, you may not have time to get to that life jacket. So, we recommend wearing a life jacket at all times,” said Mumford.
Click here for more information on boating safety.