WINCHESTER, TN (WSMV) - Kayaking deaths are on the rise according to the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency.

“It's a tragedy that seems like happens a little too often anywhere,” said Chris Guess, Public Information Officer for the Franklin County Sheriff’s office.

There was a spike in deadly incidents in canoes in kayaks from 2017 to 2018; Kayaks accounted for more than 60% of incidents in 2018, with most incidents being a result of capsizing.

“I've been boating for quite a few years, and I just don't allow anybody in my boat in the water without a vest. No way. Not going to take that chance,” boater Jeffrey Flynn said as he pulled his boat off of Tims Ford Lake Monday.

Safety officials said a life jacket on a boat is as vital to a seat belt in a car.

“The water is extremely deep in some places,” Guess said of Tims Ford. “It has a river channel flowing through it that increasing the current. An accident in the water is just as deadly as one on the highway.”

In Tennessee, the minimum age for operating a boat is 12. Boat operators must be certified if born after 1989. Whether or not there is supervision is up to a parent’s discretion.

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