OSSINING, N.Y. – The drowning death of 26-year-old Ossining resident Bryan Johnson in 2012 shocked many in New York State. Johnson’s death is now inspiring renewed efforts from Assemblywoman Sandy Galef (D-Ossining) and state Sen. David Carlucci (D-Rockland/Ossining).
Galef and Carlucci announced this week that they are pushing a new bill (A.3471/S.1639) that requires all mechanically propelled vessel operators to obtain a boating safety certificate through an eight-hour safe boating course, according to a press release from Galef’s office.
The requirement would be implemented “through a multiyear phase-in beginning in 2014 with 18 year olds,” according to the release. Galef and Carlucci first announced the push following Johnson’s death last year but said this week the bill could be gaining new traction.
Johnson’s grandmother, Thomasina Laidley Brown, praised Galef and Carlucci for continuing to push to find support for the bill.
“I want to thank Assemblywoman Galef and Senator Carlucci for seeing the need to introduce this Boating Safety Legislation, to tighten boating safety,” she said in a press release. “Needless to say, I am angry and appalled at the flaws which currently exist, with regard to the operating of boats on the waters. My grandson will not have died in vain if such changes in boating legislation can be enacted without further delay.”
Johnson’s mother, Sheila Lilley, agreed.
“It is appalling to know that New York State has no mandatory safety boating education requirements for operators of a watercraft; especially those which are operated by a motor and most certainly those having 3 or more passengers,” Lilley said in the release. “To think you do not even need to have a boating license; that’s insane. Operators should have to go through some kind of safety class with some requirements to respond to a life emergency.”
Galef said she wanted to be sure there laws in place that could protect boat operators on New York waters.
“Some boat operators do not understand the possible damage that can result from slight inaccuracies in operation when navigating in highly trafficked or tricky waterways,” Galef said in the release. “This ignorance of the rules of operation cannot be tolerated in the face of dangerous and all too often fatal accidents.”
Assemblyman Thomas Abinanti, Assemblyman Charles Lavine (D-Glen Cove) and Assemblywoman Amy Paulin are among those also showing interest in the bill, according to the release. Captain Eric Johannson, Executive Director of the Tug and Barge Committee Port of NY/NJ and Paul Okura, Commander of the Westchester Sail and Power Squadron, a unit of the United States Power Squadrons also announced their support for the bill, according to the release.
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