In the wake of the fatal speedboat crash on the Hudson River this past weekend that claimed the lives of a bride-to-be, her fiancé’s best man and injured several other people including the groom, Hempstead Town Supervisor Kate Murray announced that the town is enhancing its ability to keep waterways more safe with the use of newly acquired breathalyzers and rescue diving equipment. Joining Murray at a press event and demonstration at the town’s West Marina in Point Lookout were Councilwoman Dorothy Goosby and Receiver of Taxes Don Clavin. Also present were Danielle Rella, Program Specialist from Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), and Christopher Briggs, President of the Bay Constable Benevolent Association.
“With a boating tragedy and mishaps occurring recently, we want to remind the boating public of the importance of boater safety as they venture out on our waterways,” stated Murray. “At the same time, our town will be using some newly acquired equipment to help keep boaters safer on the sea. New breathalyzers will be used by the town’s Bay Constables to keep boaters who are drinking and piloting a boat off of our local waters, and our new rescue diving equipment will be used to save boating accident victims and others who may become trapped under water.”
The new equipment was secured by MADD and the Bay Constable Benevolent Association through government grants. The two agencies in turn presented the life-saving equipment to Hempstead Town’s Bay Constables. The town’s constables patrol nearly 200 miles of waterways along the south shore between the New York City line and the Town of Oyster Bay.
“I want to personally thank Danielle Rella of MADD for providing our Bay Constables with new breathalyzers and Christopher Briggs of the Bay Constable Benevolent Association for giving our town Rapid Diver Entry Equipment,” stated Murray. “Boaters in Hempstead Town will be safer thanks to your efforts.”
Recent boating incidents serve to remind the boating public to observe safety regulations as they enjoy the summer boating season. In this past weekend’s tragic boating accident along the Hudson River which claimed the lives of a bride-to-be and her fiancé’s best man, police suspect the driver of the boat was intoxicated. Last July 4th in Cold Spring Harbor the 34-foot yacht Kandi Won capsized and sank due to overcrowding, tragically killing three children aboard. In May 2013, a Suffolk County man was arrested for Boating While Intoxicated, after his 21-foot motorboat struck a 50-foot sailboat that was moored in Northport Harbor with a family of four aboard. Fortunately, no one was injured in this incident. Just last week, two men who were out fishing were rescued from a sinking boat near Port Jefferson Harbor. On Sunday, July 21st a collision occurred involving two boats along the south shore in the Great South Bay.
Among the safety equipment just acquired are two portable breath test units (PBTs) that will be used on the waterways by Hempstead Town Bay Constables to administer sobriety tests upon suspicion of Boating While Intoxicated (BWI). MADD, a non-profit organization that has been campaigning to eliminate drunk driving as well as boating while intoxicated, donated the two Portable Breath Test Units which cost approximately $350 to $400 each. These breathalyzers will replace some of the town’s units that were destroyed in Superstorm Sandy.
“Boating While Intoxicated is the leading contributing factor in fatal boating accidents,” Councilwoman Dorothy Goosby said. “Having portable units on board patrol vessels will allow our Bay Constables to immediately determine if someone is operating their boat while impaired and take appropriate action without delay.”
Briggs and the Bay Constable Benevolent Association secured a grant to purchase Rapid Diver Entry Equipment and donated two units to Hempstead Town Bay Constables. The equipment can speed recovery of those trapped in overturned boats or vehicles. Designed to be used by first responders in shallow water, the compact units can be stored in a small space and be ready for use in less than a minute. The units include a vest integrated with Self Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA) with two air tanks and regulators, allowing both the rescuer and victim to have access to their own air supply.
"Seconds count during a drowning or boating accident, and the Rapid Diver Entry Equipment can be used by our Bay Constables, who are generally the first on the scene of an accident,” said Murray. “By equipping and training our Bay Constables to make an immediate dive and search a submerged vessel, we can save lives.”
Hempstead Town Bay Constables Orazio Taddeo and Brendon Moran recently attended training sessions that were funded through the Benevolent Association’s grant and are certified to use the Rapid Diver Entry Equipment. Known as “Shallow Water Public Safety Divers”, Taddeo and Moran demonstrated the use of the new equipment in a mock rescue.
“Boating along Hempstead Town’s beautiful waterways is one of the most enjoyable aspects of living on our charming island home,” concluded Murray. “By taking steps to keep boaters safe we can help ensure that the boating experience on Long Island is a safe and positive one.”