U.S. Rep. Steve Israel, D-N.Y., is introducing legislation that would require new boats up to 45 feet to display maximum capacity signs, the most recent legislative response to an accident nearly two years ago that left three children dead after a 34-foot boat carrying 27 people capsized on Long Island Sound.
The measure also would establish limits on the number of people who could safely be on a cruiser’s flybridge and fund more boater education classes.
Federal law sets capacity limits only for boats less than 20 feet and does not restrict occupancy on flybridges. The American Boat and Yacht Council sets voluntary capacity ratings for boats up to 26 feet.
The 34-foot Silverton Kandi Won sank on July 4, 2012, in Oyster Bay, N.Y., after a fireworks show and left three children dead, garnering national attention. It was later determined that overcrowding caused the boat to tip. Investigators also said the four adults and three children on the flybridge contributed to the instability of the boat.
A mother who lost her daughter in the tragedy threw her emotional support Friday behind efforts to set capacity limits for more recreational boats, according to a Newsday report.
"Her loss is going to protect people in the future," said Lisa Gaines, speaking outside the Huntington Yacht Club — near where the ill-fated Kandi Won launched in 2012. Standing beside Gaines, Israel said he would introduce a sweeping boating safety bill.
The measure would require that all new recreational boats less than 45 feet have a specified maximum weight and a limit on the number of people allowed aboard. It also would establish limits on the number of people who could safely be on a cruiser's flybridge.
Israel's bill also would provide federal grants for public boating safety classes. The money would come from marine fuel taxes and fishing equipment fees.
Gaines, 47, of Huntington Station, has been pushing for tougher boating laws since the accident. She boarded the boat to catch a fireworks show with her 7-year-old daughter, Victoria, and son Ryan, who is now 14.
Mother and son survived, but Victoria and cousins David Aureliano, 12, of Kings Park, N.Y., and Harlie Treanor, 11, of Huntington Station, N.Y., were trapped in the cabin and drowned.
Israel has no Senate co-sponsor yet for his safety bill. Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., has been trying to get a similar measure through his chamber since the accident and told the paper he plans to reintroduce it.
The Coast Guard tells News 12 that capsizings and falls overboard because of overloaded boats account for more than half of all boating fatalities.