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Nassau steps up patrols amid calls for tougher boating laws

From left to right, Lisa Gaines, mother of

From left to right, Lisa Gaines, mother of seven-year-old drowning victim Victoria Gaines, Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice and Joy Treanor mother of eleven-year-old drowning victim Harlie Treanor, during a press conference in Oyster Bay about boating safety, Saturday, July 20, 2014. Credit: Newsday / Audrey C. Tiernan

Nassau police said Sunday they will increase marine patrols until Labor Day to improve safety, as county officials and family members of those killed while boating renewed calls to toughen state and federal laws.

The additional patrols in Nassau will focus on boating while intoxicated and general safety, acting Police Commissioner Thomas Krumpter said. There will be an additional 70 to 100 hours of patrols per week on the North and South shores, focusing on the busiest areas and times.

Nassau currently has one patrol boat on the North Shore and one on the South Shore. Krumpter said two to three more boats would be added to supplement the existing two.

District Attorney Kathleen Rice, meanwhile, said "common sense" laws to improve boating safety have stalled, more than two years after the 34-foot cabin cruiser Kandi Won capsized on July 4, 2012, in Oyster Bay, killing Harlie Treanor, 11, Victoria Gaines, 7, and David Aureliano, 12. The cabin cruiser had 27 people aboard, 15 of them children.

Mothers Joy Treanor and Lisa Gaines joined Rice Sunday to call for stricter laws and increased training and rescue diving equipment.

Among eight recommendations made by Rice last year were a new requirement that all boaters obtain safety certificates. Another would require all boats to have their capacity set and posted on the crafts. The Coast Guard currently sets capacity limits only for boats less than 20 feet long.

"State and federal authorities, legislative leaders, need to step up," Rice said on the waterfront at Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Park in Oyster Bay. She called the failure to pass tougher laws, "absurd and ridiculous."

Paul Gaines, father of Victoria Gaines, said in a statement, "Why has little to almost nothing been done to prevent something like this from happening to others?"

Rice, who is running for Congress, praised fellow Democrats Sen. Charles Schumer and Rep. Steve Israel (D-Huntington), who introduced a boating safety bill in the House this year.

Rice said legislation to combine drunken driving and drunken boating statutes has also not passed at the state level.

The state passed a law in 2013 requiring all boat operators born on or after May 1, 1996, to complete a safety course, but some boating experts said it's not enough.

Representatives of the Empire State Marine Trades Association, which has defeated mandatory boater safety certificates, according to its website, could not be reached for comment Sunday.

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