With the approach of Labor Day weekend, Islip Town officials want to remind local boaters to be safe and avoid boating while intoxicated.
"It is one of the busiest weekends," Islip Supervisor Angie Carpenter said at a news conference Thursday while standing at the Maple Avenue dock in Bay Shore. She pointed out that there are an estimated 64,000 registered boats in Suffolk County, many destined for the town's 16 miles of shorefront on the Great South Bay and Atlantic Ocean over the holiday weekend.
Islip will add extra marine patrols over the weekend, according to the town's Deputy Commissioner of Public Safety Anthony D'Amico. He said the blood-alcohol limits for boating are the same as for driving impaired or intoxicated.
The U.S. Coast Guard estimated that 41 percent of fatal boating accidents in the nation happen as a result of boating while intoxicated.
Deer Park resident Gina Lieneck came to the news conference to share details of her family's tragic accident in 2005, when a Bay Shore man who police charged with boating while intoxicated crashed his Grady White boat into the Lienecks' Bayline in the Great South Bay.
Lieneck's 11-year-old daughter Brianna died in the accident and her husband suffered serious injuries. Charges were later dropped against the Bay Shore man after a sobriety test showed no traces of alcohol.
"I know everyone wants to have a good time, but please take precautions," said Lieneck, who was on the boat, and she urged new boaters to take training classes.
Carpenter listed several safety tips, including wearing a life jacket, keeping flotation devices on board, ensuring that pilots have state-required training, and avoiding alcohol if driving the boat. She added that she hoped that this time, the public will heed constant reminders to stop drinking and boating.
"People just seem to not want to get the message," Carpenter said.