MORRISTOWN - The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency said a 23-year-old Talbott man died in a kayak fishing accident on Monday.
Authorities recovered James Bradley Campbell’s body in a cove near Panther Creek State Park around 7:36 p.m. Monday. A TWRA release said Campbell was not wearing a life jacket when his kayak overturned and he went overboard.
A man fishing with Campbell was unable to find him in the water.
The man flagged down a passing boater who called 911 for help.
The investigation is ongoing.
TWRA spokesperson Matthew Cameron said the agency has already investigated four fatal boating accidents in 2016.
Cameron said properly worn life jackets would have “likely made a difference” in each case.
"We all know the dangers of driving a car on the highway, but I think folks tend to lose (that) thought, and don't make the connection of how dangerous the liquid environment can be, how dangerous it is on a boat,” said TWRA Sgt. Roy Smith.
The TWRA said U.S. Coast Guard studies show about 75 percent or more of boating accident victims drown, and 85 percent of those victims are not wearing a life jacket.
“We get lots of excuses from its too hot, to its too uncomfortable, to I don't like the tan lines,” Smith said. “But at any rate, it’s the easiest way to prevent drowning.”
National Safe Boating Week started on Saturday and runs through Friday.
"There will be a lot higher volume of folks on the lake this weekend than we've had thus far,” Smith said. "The chances of you having your wits about you enough that once you hit the water to swim around, and find a life jacket that may or may not be floating, the chances are pretty slim."
In Tennessee, children 12 and under are the only ones required to wear a life vest in a moving boat. Adults are still required by law to have to have a life vest stored somewhere on board.
"For a life jacket to be useful to you, you have to have it on,” Smith said.
Smith is one of many officers who will patrol East Tennessee lakes this weekend.
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