By Alex Petroski
Town and county officials aren’t taking boating safety lightly, and are urging residents to take precautions while out on the water this summer.
Boating safety was the topic of discussion at a press conference held at the Sandspit Marina in Patchogue Thursday, following a hit-and-run incident on May 24. Mark Tricarico, 31, of Selden, was arrested and charged with leaving the scene of a boating accident involving injury, according to a Suffolk County Police department press release.
Tricarico allegedly crashed a 23-foot boat into the west jetty at the entrance of the Patchogue River on the night of the 24th. One passenger was treated for minor injuries. Tricarico could not be reached for comment.
“If everyone follows safe boating procedures, most accidents can be prevented,” Brookhaven Town Supervisor Ed Romaine (R) said on Thursday, just yards away from the site of the incident.
June and July are typically the busiest boating months of the year on Long Island, and Romaine along with Suffolk County Police Marine Bureau Deputy Inspector Ed Vitale urged boaters to be aware of boating laws in the hopes of avoiding a repeat of the events of May 24.
Romaine and Vitale also reiterated some general boating safety precautions, like avoiding alcohol while operating a boat, being aware of weather forecasts and following paths set by buoys.
“Stay in the navigable channels,” Romaine said. “Understand what the buoys are for.”
Operating boats while intoxicated was a point everyone touched on.
“You don’t see it that often until you see a boat up on the rocks,” Jesse Mentzel, a bay constable, said in a one on one interview. “It happens, and they could hit another boat just as easily.”
Assistant Deputy County Executive Tim Sini attended the press conference on behalf of Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone (D).
“We want to make one thing clear—boating while intoxicated will not be tolerated in Suffolk County,” Sini said.
Sini added that there would be checkpoints and patrols to monitor the waterways and ensure that everyone remains safe this summer.
Some additional safety precautions suggested by Romaine and Vitale included a boating course approved by the U.S. Coast Guard as well as a swiming and first-aid course, operating at safe speeds, and designating an assistant skipper in case you are injured or otherwise unable to assume command of the vessel.
“The water can be a very hostile environment,” Vitale said. “It’s a beautiful looking place and it is truly, but it can be very hostile to people. You have to pay attention. You have to be aware of the weather. You have to be aware of the currents. This is something that every now and then people get out on the water and they just don’t get it.”