OSSINING, N.Y. – Assembly member Sandy Galef (D-Ossining) is hoping to prevent boating accidents like the one that claimed the life of Ossining’s Bryan Johnson in June.
Galef and state Sen. David Carlucci (D-Rockland/Orange) are set to announce a package of boating safety legislation Thursday at the Ossining Boathouse Restaurant. The legislation is aimed to “prevent future accidents in our waterways and create better-educated boaters,” according to a press release.
Johnson was reported missing June 20 after he and several friends apparently went for a late-night swim in the Bronx. Police said previously that Johnson disappeared just before 11 p.m. after jumping from a boat into the Long Island Sound with a group of others to swim. Police said the boat pulled away without Johnson. The 26-year-old reportedly drowned near City Island.
“We’re trying to stem the tide of all of these tragedies that have occurred,” Galef said Tuesday. “I don’t know how you absolutely prevent accidents from happening or getting people who are irresponsible. But I think there are directions that need to be taken to make it as safe as possible. We can’t prevent it entirely, but our state needs to do as much as we can.”
The package will require 18-year-old new boaters to obtain boating safety certificates. The process is set to be phased in, beginning with 18-year-olds and gradually expand. The legislation is also set to introduce “real financial incentives” through reductions in insurance premiums for current boaters who complete a safety course and receive a safety certificate, according to the release.
Introducing steps to improve boater safety could help if done correctly, said Frank Bergman, president of the Hudson River Boat and Yacht Club Association. Bergman said he plans to attend Thursday’s meeting to give his opinion on the new legislation.
“Boating safety is very important but it’s important that it’s learned out on the water from people who know what the heck they are doing,” Bergman said Tuesday. “We are very concerned about all of the idiots out there boating who don’t know how to do it the right way.”
Bergman also cautioned that new legislation could cause a hindrance as well.
“We have to make sure it does not keep people from boating,” he said, explaining that high costs could prevent people from signing up for boating safety. “The river is such a great resource that we need and that’s why it’s important that we have safety on the river and why it’s so important that we get people down to the river.”
Thursday’s announcement is set to come during a 10:30 a.m. press conference at the Boathouse Restaurant at 4 Westerly Road, Ossining.