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Boating Safety Is A Big Summertime Concern In Westchester

Thomas Earle of the Ossining Boat and Canoe Club is a big advocate for boater safety. Photo Credit: Sam Barron
Boating on the Hudson can be fun but boating at night carries a whole new set of risks. Photo Credit: Sam Barron

WESTCHESTER COUNTY, N.Y. -- When it comes to being on a boat, a captain needs to have all hands on deck.

Last July, a deadly boat accident occurred near the Tappan Zee Bridge when Jojo John, 35, was driving a powerboat that hit a stationary barge used in the construction of the new bridge.

The accident killed Lindsey Stewart just days before her wedding as well as Mark Lennon, her fiancee's best man. 

John, who according to the Rockland District Attorney had double the legal amount of alcohol and traces of cocaine in his system, is expected to be sentenced to two years in prison. The families involved in the accident blame the barge company for having the bar inadequately lid.

July Fourth is one of the most popular days for boaters at night.  Scott Croft, a Tarrytown resident and vice president of public affairs for BoatUS, said boaters who boat at night need to be  careful.

"You've spent the day on the water having BBQ, going fishing and swimming," Croft, a member of the Ossining Boat and Canoe Club, said. "Those are stressers. You need a captain to be attentive behind the wheel and for guests to do their role."

Croft said alcohol should be left at home and boaters need to learn that driving at night is a whole new ballgame.

"It requires a whole new set of skills," Croft said. "You need extreme patience. On July Fourth, it's like O'Hare Airport on a Friday afternoon."

The biggest danger to a boater is other boaters, Croft said. 

"They may not notice you or your navigation lights might not be fully visible," Croft said. "They might not be paying attention."

Croft said to make good use of our crew and never feel the need to rush.

"Everyone needs to have a lifejacket," Craft said.  "Be on top of your game. Caution, caution, caution."

Joining a boat club is another way to ensure boating safety. Westchester has boat clubs throughout the county including in Ossining, Mamaroneck, Irvington, New Rochelle and Peekskill.

"You can have some food, make new friends and learn more about the safest way to navigate your boat," Croft said.

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