Boaters warned to put safety first as holiday weekend kicks off

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A woman who lost her daughter to a crash involving a drunken boater has a message for Long Islanders this Memorial Day weekend.

In the summer of 2005, police say a drunken boater rammed Gina Lieneck's boat on the Great South Bay, killing her 11-year-old daughter, Brianna. Every summer since then, Lieneck honors her daughter by reminding other boaters of the dangers on the water.

"I always dread this time of year," Lieneck says. "It's very scary that there are so many people that don't take responsibility out on the water."

At news conferences Friday, town supervisors in both Babylon and Islip warned boaters to obey the boating laws.

"We want everyone to have a good time, but we don't want anyone to be part of a tragedy," says Islip Supervisor Angie Carpenter.

Suffolk police say there were 14 boating accidents on the Great South Bay last summer, including five that involved serious injuries and one that involved a fatality.

Backed by his marine bureau officers at a news conference Friday, Suffolk Police Commissioner Tim Sini reminded boaters to designate a driver whenever drinking is involved.

Boaters are also urged to avoid overloading their vessel with too many passengers, to make sure everyone wears a life jacket and to check all safety equipment.

Patrols will be out looking for boaters and Jet Ski riders who are intoxicated or reckless, police say.

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