Coast Guard stresses importance of following all on-water safety precautions following fatal boating accident on Hudson River
NEW YORK — In July, two people died in a tragic boating accident on the Hudson River.
Reports indicate that overcrowding may have been a problem, but the investigation is ongoing.
For the US Coast Guard, illegal charter boats have long been a high priority when patrolling the Hudson.
“A lot of people don’t understand the concern for safety until something tragic like this happens,” said boatswain Michael McGinley.
McGinley was referring to the fatal boating accident in which a 7-year-old child and a 47-year-old woman were killed when their boat capsized in rough waters.
The US Coast Guard performs regular spot checks to ensure all precautions are in place. CBS2’s Mary Calvi accompanied them as they patrolled the waters.
A 45ft lifeboat docked on a fishing charter, with the crew boarding as part of a routine safety inspection.
“With respect to potential illegal passenger vessels, the items we would also be looking at would be seafarers certified on board,” Lt. Hayden Veech said.
Veech is a Navy investigator who says it’s mandatory for a captained charter for six people or less.
Documents were handed over and an inspection of fire extinguishers, flares and other safety equipment was also carried out. The charter was found to be in compliance, and one of the fishermen even made his catch, but the coastguard remains on alert for possible red flags.
“We’re seeing it more and more, especially on social media like this,” Veech said. “People are finding new ways to build businesses.”
The lieutenant says the Coast Guard monitors sites like Sailo and Boatsetter, verifies the validity of advertised vessels and shares questionable information with boarding crews.
“It could say, we’re carrying 18 people, and this, that, and another, and we know from our data and information, they’re not being screened,” Veech said.
“The biggest danger is overcapacity, not having the right safety equipment and not paying attention to what’s needed,” said Derek Severns, acting New York area operations manager. “Since July 1, we have conducted 14 boating safety missions, over 50 hours on the water.”
Since July, the Coast Guard has terminated three charters for breaching security.
The owner and captain of another boat the crew boarded says Coast Guard inspections are nothing new and adds that he knows how important they are, having seen dangerous activity.
“You can spot who’s familiar, who’s unfamiliar on the water. Just bad news, stuff waiting to happen,” he said.
The family of boaters were also in compliance, with the captain adding that he was grateful to have the Coast Guard here to make sure everyone is safe.
“We are now a family,” he joked.
Experts say boaters should ensure their operator has a merchant seaman’s title and that the boat meets all safety requirements, including having flares and life jackets.