Suffolk family aims to enact stricter boating laws

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BAY SHORE -

A Suffolk County family is asking for help in their ongoing fight for stricter boating laws.

Gina Lieneck's 11-year-old daughter Brianna was killed in a boating crash in 2005. Lieneck is trying to get state lawmakers to pass a new law that would require a boating safety course for all boaters. The current law requires it for boaters born after May 1996 and for people on personal watercraft such as Jet Skis.

"You have to get a driver's license to go down the road," Lieneck says. "You should take a boating safety class, and if they say it's too expensive, don't get a boat."

Charles Cushman, who works at Captain Bill's Marina in Bay Shore, says the course is a good idea.

"I just sit here and watch these people come in and out and they don't slow down, they don't give nobody the right of way," he says. "It's no good."

Richard Werner, of Safe Boating America in Bethpage, says the number of boating crashes has been rising in New York. He says he's seen plenty of people who need a boating safety course and that some of them didn't even know how to pull up to a dock.

"They bounce off the dock or do a little damage to their boat or somebody else's boat trying to dock the boat," Werner says. "But I've also seen much more tragic things, where there's a major accident."

State Sen. Phil Boyle is sponsoring the law and says he's optimistic it will pass during an election year.

Lieneck has an online petition looking for support for Brianna's Law. She is also pushing for a federal boating safety law.

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