CENTERPORT, New York (LOG NEWS SERVICE) — A Long Island county where a 12-year-old boy died during a boating safety lesson now has a new law aimed at preventing such tragedies from happening again.
Newsday reports Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone signed Ryan’s Law on July 28. The law is named after Ryan Weiss, who was killed on July 18, 2017 when he was hit by a boat propeller.
Authorities say the boy was participating in a sailboat capsizing lesson at the Centerport Yacht Club when he was pulled from the water into an inflatable Zodiac boat. When the boat took off, Ryan fell overboard and was fatally struck by the motor’s propeller.
Suffolk Legislator William “Doc” Spencer, sponsor of the bill, said the law is the first of its kind in the nation,
“This bill is bipartisan, practical, well thought out and doesn’t impinge on the boaters,” Spencer said, suggesting boating families consider installing prop guards on their own.
Spencer said thorough research led to a consensus among the U.S. Coast Guard, area yacht clubs and county officials that the installation of propeller guards on all instructional vessels was the most sensible solution.
“There’s nothing you can do to make everything completely safe… but the idea was that we could decrease the potential for these unexpected tragedies,” Spencer said
The legislation states “any vessel utilized to teach minors about marine navigation and safety in a formal setting, such as an instructional course conducted by a marina, yacht club or boating organization” is required to have a propeller guard when operating in Suffolk waterways.
A first-time violation carries a fine of $250-$500. Convictions for all subsequent offenses can bring a fine of $750-$1,500 per offense
Some manufactures of marine engines are on record opposing propeller guards citing reduced performance and propeller fouling while others in the marine field, while acknowledge that a propeller guard decreases a high powered boat’s top speed, report propeller guards have little effect on a motors performance at slower speeds around other boats, docks or while idling to pick up a person in the water where accidents are likely to occur.
A report from The Associated Press was used in this story.