26-year-old Bryan Johnson drowned just over a year ago in Long Island Sound off of City Island during a midnight swim with friends off a motorboat.
Monday, less than one year after that and several tragic boating-related deaths in New York’s waterways, Senator Jeff Klein, Senator David Carlucci and Assemblywoman Sandy Galef called upon Governor Cuomo to sign legislation making boat safety training a crucial part of the every young New Yorker’s annual motorboat licensing application. The legislation, (A.3471-A/S.1639-A), was championed by all three lawmakers in the recent legislative session. Joined by the mother and grandmother of Bryan Johnson, a victim of a fatal boating incident off of City Island, Senator Klein underlined his support for boating education requirements, citing evidence showing that the Bronx has among the highest rates of boating accidents in the state.
Senator Klein said: “It’s clear that boating safety education is a critical part of reducing the number of tragic incidents that happen every year on New York’s waterways. Here in the Bronx, we have the third highest rate of boating accidents in the state. That’s unacceptable, and it demonstrates why we have a duty to do more. That’s why I supported legislation that will increase boating safety education, bring our standards in line with neighboring states and, most importantly, save lives. I urge Governor Cuomo to sign this common sense legislation into law for the safety of all New Yorkers who enjoy spending time on the water.”
Senator Carlucci was the prime sponsor in the Senate and Assemblywoman Galef was the prime sponsor in the Assembly. The legislators were joined Vice-Commodore of the City Island Yacht Club, David Schulman and Boating Education Officer Franz Alvarez of the City Island Sail and Power Authority,
This legislation would require everyone – beginning with those who are 18 years and younger – to pass a certified boating safety course before operating motorboats.
The legislation includes a variety of key safety provisions intended to prevent future accidents from taking place:
· Require that no person born on or after May 1, 1996 may operate a mechanically propelled vessel on the navigable waters of the state, unless they hold a boating safety certificate.
· Boating safety certificates are to be issued by the Commissioner of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, the U.S. Power Squadrons or the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary. The Commissioner also has existing authority, through regulation, to designate others who are authorized to issue such certificates.
· The bill preserves the existing law ability of someone who is at least ten years old to operate a mechanically propelled vessel unaccompanied, provided they hold a certificate.
· A person who is younger than 18 years of age may operate a mechanically propelled vessel without a boating safety certificate, provided they are accompanied by at least one person at least 18 years of age who is either the holder of a boating safety certificate or is not required to hold a boating safety certificate.
· The bill provides a grace period of 120 days for people who purchase a vessel, and are otherwise required to hold a boating safety certificate, to operate such a vessel without a certificate.
In addition, specific exemptions exist from needing to obtain a boating safety certificate for anyone born before April 30, 1996, including a host of certified boating safety instructors, members of the U.S. Power Squadrons, U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary and holders of public vessel licenses. It also pertains to law enforcement (police) officers, fire personnel and peace officers.
The new system will also provide that the Commissioner shall develop and implement a method for approving internet-based boating safety courses, a new initiative that makes it easier to gain access to these certificates.
To view the legislation in its entirety, please visit the link here.
Left - Senator David Carlucci Senate sponsor of this boating safety training law speaks about the dangers of boating especially to inexperienced young people who go out on the waters. Senator Klein and Assemblywoman Galef flank Senator Carlucci as Bryan Johnson's mother and grandmother stand behind him.
Right - The mother of Bryan Johnson who was a victim of a boating accident tells of the sorrow that she has gone through, and the need for this legislation that she helped fight for.