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."