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New York senator seeks capacity regulations on boats

In the wake of a recent tragedy, the waters of enforcement for boaters who overcrowd their vessels are still murky.

After the high-profile case of three children who died when a 34-foot Silverton cruiser carrying 27 people capsized July 4 in Oyster Bay, another apparent overcrowding situation occurred, according to a Riverhead (N.Y.) Patch article.

A few days after the tragedy, five people packed a paddleboat meant for two on Wading River in Suffolk County, N.Y., and a wave overturned the boat. Riverhead police and other responders brought all who were thrown into Long Island Sound screaming for help — including a 7-year-old boy — to safety.

Despite wide public attention, officials say state laws in New York don't address the problem of overcrowding on recreational boats.

U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer is calling on the Coast Guard to set capacity limits for large recreational boats, according to a Newsday article.

Schumer, D-N.Y., also wants the Coast Guard to require that capacity and weight limits be posted on boats longer than 20 feet, according to the publication. The Coast Guard currently has capacity limits for boats less than 20 feet.

The parents of Victoria Gaines — the 7-year-old who was killed along with the Kandi Won owner's daughter, Harlie Treanor, 11, and Harlie's cousin David Aureliano, 12, in the July 4 accident — joined Schumer's call for the regulation. The rule also would require that, when posted, capacity limits appear visible to crewmembers and passengers.

The tragedy "never should have happened," Paul Gaines said at a press conference on Sunday, his voice cracking as his wife held a framed photo of their daughter.

Sally Drake, a spokeswoman for the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation, told Riverhead Patch that all regulations about capacity on boats are federally determined.

No federal regulations exist regarding capacity on recreational boats sized similarly to the boats involved in the recent Long Island accidents, Drake told Riverhead Patch.

The Coast Guard can enforce safety equipment standards and cite boat owners who do not adhere to regulations.

Click here for the Riverhead Patch article and click here for the Newsday report.

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