Friends of a boy killed over the weekend when his canoe tipped over on Jackfish Lake are urging boaters to be safe and wear life jackets whenever they're out on the water.

Two teenaged boys were paddling a canoe on a lake near Norman Wells, N.W.T.  One of the boy's swam to shore. The other did not. The body of 15-year-old Andy Carpenter Jr. was found the next day. He wasn't wearing a life jacket.

'A lot of people's lives can be broken' —Drowning victim's friend, Chris Church

Friends say it's a huge loss that could have been avoided.

"He knew everybody and he made such a big impact on everyone's lives," says Chris Church, a long-time friend in Inuvik, where Carpenter grew up. "Just to see him gone like that because of one little thing, not wearing a lifejacket…a lot of people's lives can be broken like that."

Church says Carpenter had asthma, and sometimes had trouble breathing in the water. He wants to see boaters take wearing a lifejacket more seriously, and for people going out on the land or the water to tell people where they are headed.

Life jackets save lives

Boat safety is a longstanding issue in the North. Earl Blacklock with the Department of Transportation says it's essential that all boaters wear life jackets.

"A lot of people die just in the first ten minutes after immersion because they're not prepared for the shock," Blacklock says. "Again, lifejackets can help to keep the core body heat so that you can orient yourself and figure out a plan to get back to shore."

Experts says letting others know where and when you will be coming back can also help keep boaters safe.