With a dozen fatalities already this year on Maryland waters, the state is on pace for its deadliest boating season in decades, a Maryland Natural Resources Police spokeswoman said Monday.
The body of Easton’s Stephanie Meredith, 35, who officials say fell out of a racing sailboat Friday night, was found on the Corsica River between Queen Anne’s and Kent counties Sunday morning. Her death was the 12th this year on Maryland waters, up from nine last year, spokeswoman Candy Thomson said.
Only midway through what Thomson calls “our most dangerous month,” the state is on a pace that would eclipse the 21-death mark of 2015, Maryland’s most deadly since 1994, when it had 24.
At this date three years ago, Thomson said, there were only nine fatalities on state waters.
“We’re already at the average for the whole year, and that’s what causes us pause at this point,” she said.
August is the second-most dangerous month in the state’s boating season, and Thomson warned the number of deaths could rise even beyond the summer months, especially if autumn is warm.
The 12 deaths registered so far in Maryland have largely clustered in the section of the Chesapeake Bay stretching from Baltimore to St. Michaels, in Talbot County, Thomson said.
All but one of the victims were not wearing life jackets; the life jacket of the other victim, Thomson said, did not inflate.
In addition to wearing life jackets, boaters should consider other “common sense” factors before heading out, Thomson said, including the possibility of inclement weather, the condition of their craft, nearby marine traffic and the designation of a “sober skipper,” if necessary.
Recording a float plan — a document given to someone not on the boat that details the planned trip, arrival times and other boat information — can also save lives, Thomson said.
“If you’re overdue, we at least have some place to look,” she said. And having someone who knows when a person is expected somewhere is also helpful, she said, “because there are many times where somebody goes missing for a while before we even know.”