Family, friends of drowned boaters urge life jacket use

Two men found dead on Lake Jesup were not wearing life jackets

Published On: Jan 30 2013 03:50:11 PM EST   Updated On: Jan 12 2013 12:19:41 AM EST
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SANFORD, Fla. -

Family members and friends of two drowned boaters have launched a campaign to save lives by encouraging the use of life jackets.

Investigators said Jason Cobb and Charlie Jackson drowned in Lake Jesup in late Decemeber, after vanishing during a fishing trip. It's still unclear how the men ended up in the water.

Hundreds packed into The Barn in Sanford Friday night for a fundraiser to help the families pay for the men's funerals this week. Nearly $20,000 worth of raffle and silent auction items were donated to help the two families.

"My family walked in today and we were just overwhelmed with how many people donated to help us thru this hard time," said Amanda Goodwin, Cobb's sister.

For many of the people who came to the fundraiser, their friends' deaths sent a strong message about boating safety. In fact, the families took the pair's initials and came came up with the slogan "Jackets Can Continue Journeys."

Family and friends spent about a week searching the water, until authorities found their bodies and said the two men drowned. Even though friends said the pair spent most of their free time on the water, their two life jackets were found inside their boat.

"If they would have had them on, not guaranteed they would have been alive, but we wouldn't have been out searching for a week trying to find them," said Goodwin.

Their families hope to save lives with a simple message. They're reaching out to boaters and encouraging the use of inflatable life jackets that are less bulky than traditional life jackets, and inflate on contact with water.

Regardless the style of jacket, their message is to wear one.

"You have to have a life jacket per person in a boat and most people don't even wear them," said Goodwin. "If you're in the water, wear a life jacket."