Weekend South Shore boat crashes that killed two and injured several others spurred Suffolk officials Monday to warn Long Islander of how a summer day enjoying area waterways can quickly turn deadly.
“I’m sure all of the people that were involved in these incidents didn’t think that they were going to be part of a tragedy when they left their homes on Saturday or Sunday,” said Suffolk Police Chief Stuart Cameron at a news conference with County Executive Steve Bellone at Timber Point Marina in Great River.
In a span of just over 24 hours, weekend boat crashes in Nassau and Suffolk claimed the lives of two women and injured four others, officials said.
On Saturday night, Suffolk police pulled two injured boaters from the water after a two-boat collision in Moriches Inlet.
A day later, Mi Hua Hsu, 56, of Shirley, was with her husband, Jack Chin, on a boat east of Moriches Inlet at about 6:30 p.m. Sunday when it was struck by a Sea Ray operated by Robert Burkhardt, 65, of East Moriches, police said. A physician assistant pronounced Hsu dead at a nearby Coast Guard station and Chin, 50, was treated at a hospital for minor injuries, police said.
Earlier Sunday, Caitlin Rose McDonald, 18, of Rockville Centre, riding on a personal watercraft, was killed after the vessel collided with a 35-foot Fountain motor boat in Middle Bay, southeast of Parsonage Cove.
In another crash, Suffolk police charged a Bay Shore man with boating while intoxicated after the 19-foot vessel he was operating Sunday afternoon capsized south of the Bay Shore Marina in Great South Bay, authorities said. One of the six passengers tossed into the water along with the boat operator was treated at a hospital for non-life-threatening injuries, officials said.
"There is no difference here," Bellone said, referring to laws prohibiting operating a boat while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, "whether you are out on the road or on the water.”
None of the six passengers aboard the boat wore life preservers, officials said.
“You need to have that (personal flotation device) either on or handy because tragedy can strike at any moment,” Cameron said.