Long Island officials tell boaters, beachgoers to take precautions ahead of summer

WABC logo
Wednesday, May 17, 2023
LI officials tell boaters, beachgoers to take precautions over the summer
After last summer saw 78 accidents that killed five people, Eyewitness News takes a look at the latest measures being taken to curb boating accidents across Long Island. Stacey Sager has the story.

BABYLON, Long Island (WABC) -- As summer approaches, officials on Long Island are taking steps not only to protect people on boats but also those in the water after several reported shark encounters last year.

More people on and in the water means everyone should take extra precautions to avoid hazards.

The dangers began increasing as more people took to the waterways during the pandemic.

Sadly, the summer season is already off to a troubling start, with two missing boaters in the past two weeks alone.

One search for a 19-year-old boater off Centre Island has produced no results so far. Officials in Babylon Village last Thurasday made the grim discovery of an experienced missing boater, James Jaronczyk, 28, who had disappeared in the Great South Bay on May 7.

"These tragedies have to stop and it could be something of a simple fix," Suffolk County Police Commissioner Rodney Harrison said. "Making sure you have a flare on your boat."

The good news is officials have more tools in the arsenal this season, like an additional 10 drones equipped with infrared cameras.

"Now we have 18 of them and there are a couple of new, good drones," said Chip Gorman from New York Parks and Recreation. "One could take a life preserver, and bring it out to somebody in the ocean that's having trouble."

The drones can also take high-quality videos of sharks in the area so they can make judgment calls closer to shore.

Last year eight people were bitten by sharks on Long Island, including lifeguards.

Experts said if you're in the ocean and you see bait fish, get out of the water.

Officials also warned boaters and beachgoers to be aware of the weather conditions if you do head out on a paddle boat, or smaller vessel.

Last year in Suffolk County, 22 boating incidents resulted in serious injury or damage to a vessel.

Officials also remind boaters that it's required for all passengers on a boat to wear a life jacket. The U.S. Coast Guard estimates that at least 80% of fatalities could be avoided if people used them.

"No one is immune," Islip Town Supervisor Angie Carpenter said. "Nobody is invincible, and you have to follow the rules. When you're out and about, wear your life jacket."

Community leaders hope that the latest announcement will help prevent trouble as the season approaches.

ALSO READ | What does NYC's congestion pricing plan mean for you?

Traffic Reporter Heather O'Rourke explains what NYC's congestion pricing plan could mean for you.


* More Long Island news

* Send us a news tip

* Download the abc7NY app for breaking news alerts

* Follow us on YouTube

Submit a News Tip