Backgrounder: Be Safe - Boating Accidents around Long Island
By Rupert Deedes
Long Island, surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean and Long Island Sound, is a "boater's paradise" - but has witnessed a significant number of boating accidents in the last two decades, both fatal and non-fatal.
Boating accidents can occur as a result of various factors, including human error or carelessness, equipment failure, adverse weather conditions, and navigational hazards. Many accidents have been attributed to excessive speed, operator inexperience, reckless behavior, alcohol or drug impairment, and failure to follow safety regulations.
Some notable local boating accidents include:
-- 2003: In July 2003, a boat carrying a group of friends collided with a commercial vessel in the Great South Bay. Six people were killed.
-- 2011: In August 2011, off the coast of Montauk, a boat capsized during a fishing trip. The majority of the passengers were rescued, but three lives were lost.
-- 2012: In June 2012, two individuals lost their lives when their boat capsized in the Atlantic Ocean near Fire Island during stormy weather conditions.
-- 2012: In July, 2012, an overloaded 34-foot boat capsized - with 27 people on board - in Oyster Bay after the July 4th fireworks show, killing three children.
-- 2014: In June 2014, in the Great South Bay, a kayaker lost his life when he was struck by a powerboat.
-- 2017: In August, 2017 a 12-year-old boy was killed by a boat propeller at the Centerport Yacht Club in Northport Harbor.
-- 2018: In July 2018, two boats collided near Huntington Harbor, resulting in
several injuries. The accident was attributed to operator error and inadequate communication between the boats involved.
-- 2019: In May, 2019, during Memorial Day, in Oyster Bay, a woman was chopped by a boat propeller and had to be airlifted to the hopspital. She survived.
-- 2020: In May, 2020, Bayman Mike Kennedy hit his head and fell overboard off Center Island. He did not survive.
-- 2021: In July, 2021, Christopher Calma fell overboard in Northport Bay while fishing and drowned.
-- 2023: In May 2023, James Jaronczyk, 28, of Massapequa, was thrown off his 22-foot powerboat into the Great South Bay. His body was found in the harbor more than four days after he went overboard, not far from where he was thrown into the water.
In response to these and other accidents, local and state authorities; boating organizations; and the U.S. Coast Guard have implemented several safety initiatives.
These include stricter enforcement of boating regulations, public awareness campaigns, enhanced operator training programs, and improved navigational aids.
There have also been regulatory changes, including stricter speed limits, the requirement of boating safety courses for operators, and mandatory equipment inspections.
Most important is for boaters and sailors to understand that the water can be very dangerous, to wear a life preservers, and exercise safe procedures while boating.