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'Always wear a life vest out there' | Boater safety top of mind as weather heats up

The Lake Norman Commission recently launched a campaign called 'Love Where You Lake,' sharing laws and rules for boaters to know.

LAKE NORMAN OF CATAWBA, N.C. — Warmer weather means more people are hitting lakes in the Charlotte region for some fun, but local law enforcement is on a mission to keep the fun from turning tragic.

Over the weekend, search and rescue crews recovered the body of a 32-year-old man on Lake Norman. 

RELATED: Crews recover body of missing boater from Lake Norman

“He was on board of a pontoon boat, at some point the male entered the water and did not resurface," North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission officer Jacob Dyer said.

This is the second drowning at Lake Norman within a month. 

RELATED: Man dies after accident on Lake Norman, officials confirm

“This time of year means more people are going to be out on the water and more people on the water usually results in more incidents," Dyer said.

Now, the Lake Norman Marine Commission is asking boaters to prepare for the worst.

“People who lose their life on the lake are not using the proper life preservers," Morris Sample, executive director for the Lake Norman Marine Commission, said.

Sample said as traffic increases on the water, the importance of being prepared does as well.

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“COVID kind of drove the increase even more, so we have a lot of boaters that come into the lake that are first-time boaters or rental boats and they really don’t understand the rules of the road," Sample said.

Jet skier Kristopher Corneau, knows the power and the pain of the water all too well. 

“They’re not paying attention, there’s been a couple of times where I had to avoid an accident," Corneau said.

The Lake Norman Commission recently launched a campaign called 'Love Where You Lake,' sharing laws and rules for boaters to know.

For example, anyone 13 or younger needs to wear a life jacket at all times. There should also be a life jacket for every single person on board, regardless of their age. Also, all boat operators born after 1988 are required to take a course on boater safety and education. 

“You don’t run close to somebody else, you don’t run close to a dock, just things that you hope people would have some common sense about," Sample said. 

As more boats roll in, law enforcement's job gets tougher, but the message won't change -- wear a life jacket. 

“Always wear a life vest out there -- because if I can’t see the bottom, I’m definitely wearing one of these," Corneau said. 

The Lake Norman Commission said they are also giving law enforcement agencies free lifejackets so when they stop people who don't have the proper life jacket they can give it to boaters on the spot. 

Contact Lexi Wilson at lwilson@wcnc.com and follow her on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram

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