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'The difference between life and death' | Cornelius lake patrol officer urges safety during Labor Day weekend boating on Lake Norman

Lake season is winding down, but lake safety is still a priority.

CORNELIUS, N.C. — Some folks are wrapping up the summer with time out on the water this Labor Day weekend. Meanwhile, the Cornelius Police Department is encouraging everyone to prioritize safety while having fun on the lake.

“For me, it's like a mini vacation,” said Christina Hunsucker as she was getting ready for an afternoon of boating. “You don’t think of anything when you are on the water except relaxing and enjoying the weather.”

Dozens of boats rolled off the dock and into Lake Norman on Saturday as families sought to soak up the sun.

“I love the boat ride. You can hear the engine roaring, you can hear the water roaring, you can feel the wind blowing and you got that sun giving you that nice sun tan,” said Bruce Barnett, out with his family.

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Lake Patrol Officer George Brinzey said they expect a busy holiday and said being safe can help prevent tragedies.

“Over the last three years there have been about 20 drownings that have occurred,” said Brinzey. “Nine out of 10 times the victim was not wearing a flotation device.”

Brinzey adds the life vest does not work if you don’t put it on and fasten it.

“A life jacket is the seatbelt of the water. That would be the most effective tool to bring you back to the dock,” said Brinzey. “A simple fall into the water can be a simple fall into the water if you have a jacket on, but if you don’t it could be the difference between life and death.”

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You also want to protect yourself from the sun. Bring out the hat, put on the sunscreen, and stay hydrated.

10-year-old Olivia Hopler had her safety gear on and said she was ready for some fun in the sun.

“They put out floats and we can swim on the floats,” she said. “Like get on the float and they pull us.”

Brinzey reminds folks to be mindful of other boats in the water, keep their distance, and drive at a safe speed. He also recommends operators take the boater safety education course.  

Contact Jesse Pierre at jpierrepet@wcnc.com or follow her on FacebookX and Instagram.

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