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Police to Clamp Down on Drunken Boaters

Enforcement of BWI laws to be ramped up following fatal crash and three arrests over the weekend, officials say.

Marine police plan to step up patrols of the Great South Bay following a weekend that included a fatal boat and three arrested for boating while intoxicated.  

"We want you to enjoy being out on the water, but you have to be responsible," said Timothy Woody, commanding officer of the Fire Island Coast Guard Station, during a press conference Tuesday morning at the East Islip Marina. "You can see that alcohol and boating doesn't mix. Alcohol and driving a vehicle doesn't mix and we saw that this weekend."

Christopher Mannino, of West Islip, was killed following a crash under the Robert Moses Causeway Saturday morning. A Dix Hills man has been charged with BWI in that case. Two others were arrested on BWI charges in a separate a day later. 

Islip Town Supervisor Tom Croci, surrounded at the press conference by members of the Town Board as well United States Coast Guard officials, Suffolk County Police Marine Bureau authorities and Islip Town Harbor Police, spoke of the unique dangers of boating. 

"You don't have anti-lock brakes, you don't have side-curtain airbags," said Croci, a former Naval officer. "These vessels are not made to absorb impact as our cars are."

Deputy Inspector Christopher Hatton, commanding officer of the SCPD's Marine Bureau, said officers continue conducting vessel inspections and enforcing BWI laws the rest of the summer. Boaters can expect to see ramped up patrols beginning this weekend, Hatton said. 

July is the busiest period of the year for accidents and boating traffic in the Tri-State region. Sixteen percent of boating accidents occur as a result of BWI, and more than 20 percent of all boating fatalities are a result of alcohol-impaired boaters, according to a release from the Town of Islip. 

Margaret Rebholz, of the Long Island Affiliate of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, lost a child in a drunk driving crash and said she could understand what the Mannino family is now going through. 

"We are not trying to ruin anyone's good time out there, we are just trying to get people to be aware," Rebholz said of boaters. "If you drink and do drugs and get behind the wheel of a boat, it's not an accident. It's a crash. You are making that choice that you don't care about anybody." 

friend June 27, 2012 at 03:39 AM
I am glad to hear about taking steps to ensure safe boating. Alcohol and Boating doesn't mix..Rest In Peace. Chris Mannino
John T June 27, 2012 at 11:44 AM
Can you be anchored and under the influence? I mean you could spend a whole night or weekend on a boat, I know you cannot do that in a car but you could in a camper if parked.
Boater June 27, 2012 at 11:56 AM
I would say you could get away with this at the dock or moored in a marina, but the captain of any boat, regardless of size, should operate the boat, even at anchor, with the idea that anything can go wrong at any time. If you have spent time on the water, you know there are a host of things that can happen - changes in weather or currents, mechanical problems, medical problems, etc. The captain should be ready to act in a moments notice.
John T June 27, 2012 at 01:58 PM
I see your point, you could treat by first aid and call for help. These are relativley new rules for boaters. The Marine Division and Coast Guard should be sending out a written do and don't's when you register your vessels. In my opinion most boaters are capable and responsible. To go out on a trip for a weekend and achor and sleep, eat, but no drinking a (few beers) is not good either. They should have a higher blood alchohol content for boaters than car drivers. The biggest factor to me is inexperience and not knowing how to navigate by use of maps, #1 is speeding.
Mary June 27, 2012 at 03:25 PM
What about BWI checkpoints? The marina outside of Flynn's is a good start!
M. Perrotta June 27, 2012 at 06:53 PM
Besides alcohol consumption while boating............how about life vests ? I have seen many young people heading out on over crowded small boats and no one is wearing a life vest ! Isn't there a law about this?
Maxwell Smart June 28, 2012 at 02:15 AM
Its about time, BWI has been going on forever. Its a shame someone has to die before patrols are ramped up. The cops are too busy looking for undersized fish instead of drunk boaters, hopefully this will change.
Anthony Tigre June 28, 2012 at 01:36 PM
Ain't it grand that it takes a tragedy before steps are taken to correct what every boater out there on the water has known for years and years!
Anthony Tigre June 28, 2012 at 01:38 PM
OOH that sounds like a good idea. Lets take common sense and give it to a large group of drunks to sort out!
Wayne D. June 28, 2012 at 02:06 PM
Same "O" same "O", crack down when something happens, why not all the time ?
Christina June 29, 2012 at 02:30 PM
More checkpoints, arrests, greater sentencing has done nothing to deter people from getting in their cars and driving drunk, the same rings true for boaters. The responsible boaters out number the irresponsible ones by far. More regulations, laws, check points, climb a boards, etc... Hasn't and will not prevent boaters from drinking and captaining their vessels. No, I don't have the answer, but further infringing on citizens freedoms is the answer. My condolences to all those involved in this tragedy.
Christina June 29, 2012 at 02:31 PM
That is, is NOT the answer
Baby Girl July 02, 2012 at 04:18 AM
I am so disappointed I was out there all weekend Saturday and then again on Sunday and the only place I saw the US Coast Gaurds and Harbor Patrol was in the Marina and thier just watching boats that are already docked, Not gonna get anyone doing BUI or BWI sitting there..Ughhhh this is frustration...We lost one good guy , how bout no others!.

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