OYSTER BAY , N.Y. –Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice and Acting Nassau County Police Commissioner Thomas Krumpter were joined on the Oyster Bay waterfront today by safety advocates and victims of boating accidents to push for the adoption of long-overdue boating safety measures proposed after the tragic and fatal sinking of the Kandi Won pleasure boat.
The officials also said that with the summer boating season underway again, the Nassau County Police Department will be conducting increased safety patrols between now and Labor Day concentrating on Boating While Intoxicated enforcement and other violations of the NYS Boating Navigation and Vehicle & Traffic Laws.
“Boating is a wonderful pastime for Long Islanders,” DA Rice said, “but the tragedies and risks that bring us here today should serve as a reminder to everyone that responsibility and safety never take a vacation. It is common sense that boats are powerful vehicles like cars that require training to operate and designs and equipment to enhance safety. It’s also obvious that boating while intoxicated can have fatal consequences, but people still do it – just like DWIs. We need laws and practices that recognize the obvious and make boating as safe as possible. That is the responsibility of government and we call upon state and federal authorities and legislative leaders to help make it happen.”
The proposals supported by the group are part of DA Rice’s 2013 report on the sinking of the Kandi Won, a 34-foot pleasure boat that capsized on the night of July 4, 2012, causing the deaths of 11-year-old Harlie Treanor, seven-year-old Victoria Gaines, and 12-year-old David Aureliano. Investigators later determined that the Kandi Won capsized and sank as a result of being overloaded and encountering a wave that destabilized the boat.
Despite law enforcement, advocate and victim support for DA Rice’s proposals, and the introduction of legislation and proposals by New York lawmakers Senator Charles Schumer and Congressman Steven Israel, existing laws and regulations continue to be woefully inadequate and leave New Yorkers without much-needed protections.
Joy Treanor, mother of 11-year-old Kandi Won drowning victim Harlie Treanor, said: “I am thankful that officials like District Attorney Rice are taking an interest to assure that First Responders will have the tools they need and the cooperation of other agencies to secure and have on-board their vessels equipment necessary to effect rescues without delay or confusion. Additionally, no one should be operating boats on our waterways without the proper training. Mandatory education for all operators is also important in avoiding such tragedies and I am glad DA Rice supports this.”
Paul Gaines, father of seven-year-old Kandi Won drowning victim Victoria Gaines, said: “Numerous requests have been made by Kathleen Rice’s office, as well as myself and many others, to make positive changes for the safety of others. Why has little to almost nothing been done to prevent something like this from happening to others? Would it be that terrible to have a placard in a visible area, letting all on board be aware of the maximum weight and passenger limitations? Boater education? Many boaters have excellent knowledge of the seas. Unfortunately, many others do not. An ounce of prevention can save lives. Maybe even that of someone you love.”
Rich Mallow, New York State Executive Director of MADD, said: “Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) is focused on ending Drunk Driving and Boating, a problem that threatens the safety of everyone and endangers entire communities, now and down the road. Navigating a boat is the same as driving a car! If you choose to drink, do not drive a car or navigate a boat. Have a non-drinking designated driver/navigator.”
Marge Lee, President of DEDICATEDD, said: “Most often the focus on boating is about having fun and enjoying our waterways. Boating safety is too often forgotten. Alcohol, drugs and other unsafe choices by boaters can be deadly. DEDICATEDD supports the proposals DA Rice has made to increase boating safety.”
Eric Sorenson, author of Sorenson’s Guide to Powerboats, said: “The more boat operators know about their own boat’s inherent seaworthiness capabilities and limitations, the better able they will be to judge where, how far, when and with whom they can safely go.”
Jackie Martin, Commodore of the Greater Huntington Council of Yacht & Boating Clubs, said: “The mission of the Greater Huntington Council of Yacht and Boating Clubs is to promote recreational boating. To that end we have always advocated for safe boating and boating safety education. We have stepped up our efforts as a result of the Oyster Bay accident two years ago and we appreciate the follow up by Nassau County DA Rice which hopefully will encourage our law makers to take action on the various types of legislation we have been advocating. Our 21 member organizations, and the 4500 members we represent, support capacity plates, comprehensive safety education for boaters of ALL ages and an interface between marine law enforcement and the Department of Motor Vehicles with regard toboating law violations.”
The eight proposals made by DA Rice’s report are summarized below:
1. Federal recreational boating safety regulations should be proactive like motor vehicle safety regulations. They should include all sizes of recreational vessels and the European model of categorizing vessels should be considered.
2. Federal law should be amended to require capacity standards and capacity plates as a basic safety requirement of all vessels of any size.
3. The U.S. Coast Guard, law enforcement and rescue agencies should coordinate efforts and resources. Peace officer status for U.S. Coast Guard members should be explored and the availability of rescue divers should be revisited.
4. Boating safety certificates should be required for all operators.
5. The Department of Motor Vehicles should be the mandatory repository for all licensing/certifications for any type of vehicle or vessel operated in New York State. All convictions, suspensions or revocations should be reflected on the operating record, whether for driving or boating.
6. New York State laws should be amended to create parity and interchangeability among all operating while intoxicated statutes including operating any type of vehicle or vessel while intoxicated or impaired by drugs; operating while intoxicated or impaired with a child in the car, vessel, snowmobile or ATV, leaving the scene of collisions, assaults, homicides, etc.
7. Vessels should be registered with the Department of Motor Vehicles and required to undergo periodic safety inspections.
8. Regulators should convene a work group consisting of boating experts and associations, members of law enforcement and local governments to create a strategic boating safety plan with specific legislative and educational goals. New York State should take the lead on these important public safety issues and become the national model for boating safety.
Senator Schumer introduced the Boat Capacity Standards Act in 2012 to allow for capacity standards on boats larger than 20 feet, and has also made numerous other proposals on various aspects of boater safety, including a five-point plan for Long Island boater safety.
Congressman Israel has introduced the BOATS (Boating Occupancy and Teaching Safety) Act, which would provide grants for localities, non-profits, and for-profit companies to offer boating safety classes directly to the public. The bill would also mandate the display of capacity limits for new boats that are less than 45 feet in length, covering a vastly greater number of vessels than current federal standards.