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Monday, December 22, 2014
Politicians, boating experts talk water safety
Community news

State senators and assemblymen representing Long Island are looking to adopt new boating laws to create safer waterways and establish uniform rules in cooperation with neighboring states. At a public hearing in Oyster Bay on Aug. 8, concerned citizens offered legislators suggestions on what kind of bill ought to be written.

Among the many people advocating for new boating laws were Paul and Lisa Gaines, the parents of 7-year-old Victoria Gaines, one of three young passengers who died when the Kandi Won, a 34-foot cabin cruiser, capsized in the waters of Cove Neck on July Fourth. Victoria’s friend Harlie Treanor, 11, also died in the accident, just weeks after moving with her family from East Meadow to Huntington Station.

The Gaines family implored the elected officials — who included Sens. Jack Martins of Mineola, Carl Marcellino of Syosset and Kenneth LaValle of Port Jefferson and Assemblymen David McDonough of Merrick and Michael Montesano of Glen Head — to require all leisure craft to post maximum occupancy and weight limits, to establish a mandatory safety course for boaters and to increase police presence on the water during popular events such as Jones Beach concerts and area fireworks shows.

The goal, said Michael Della, an attorney representing the Gaines family, is to save lives. “The Gaines family refuses to accept that [Victoria’s] death will have been in vain …,” Della said. “If we can save one life, we’ve done our job.”

Jackie Martin, a boating safety advocate and the commodore of the Greater Huntington Council of Yacht and Boating Club, agreed that mandatory boating safety courses are needed, but, she said, implementing them would require “careful review and planning.” She added that mandating safety certifications, like those required in New Jersey and Connecticut, would be preferable to issuing boating licenses.

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