Coast Guard rescues 3 on Black River; NY State Police arrests operator for BUI

9th Coast Guard District NewsCLEVELAND — The Coast Guard rescued three people aboard a vessel that was taking on water in the Black River near Sackets Harbor, N.Y., and issued the operator a boating-under-the-influence ticket.

At 9:42 p.m., the watchstander from Coast Guard Station Sackets Harbor received notification from the Jefferson County Central Dispatch that a 16-foot vessel was taking on water near the Dexter Dam on the Black River.

A boatcrew from Station Sackets Harbor was dispatched aboard a 25-foot Response Boat-Small.

Jefferson County Special Tactics and Response Team boat was dispatched as well.

The STAR boatcrew located the vessel, disabled, near rocks at the base of the dam, but not taking on water. The STAR boatcrew took the vessel in tow, but shortly after lost steering and were forced to break the tow.

The Coast Guard boatcrew arrived on scene shortly after and towed the STAR boat to shore, due to dangerous currents in the river, while the disabled vessel remained safely anchored near the dam.

Upon return to the disabled 16-foot vessel, the RB-S boatcrew found it had broken loose and was drifting. The boatcrew took the disabled vessel in tow and took it to Dexter boat ramp nearby.

While the Coast Guard boatcrew was conducting a post-rescue boarding, the boarding officer noticed that the operator appeared to be intoxicated.

The New York State Police, who were present on shore during the rescue, agreed to complete shore-side field sobriety tests with the Coast Guard boarding officer’s assistance.

When asked to run through FSTs, the vessel operator became uncooperative and verbally abusive toward both the Coast Guard boarding officer and the NYSP officer  and had to be restrained by the NYSP officer.

The NYSP officer administered a breath analysis test, which indicated a .221 blood alcohol content. The BAC legal limit while boating in New York waters is .08.

The vessel operator was arrested by the NYSP and charged with disorderly conduct and boating-under-the-influence.

The Coast Guard also issued the operator a Coast Guard-4100 report for BUI.

“Boating under the influence puts everyone, including the rescuers, on the water in danger, especially in a navigationally challenging waterway like the Black River,” said Chief Petty Officer Josh Martin, the officer-in-charge and boarding officer at Station Sackets Harbor. “Alcohol impairment increases the likelihood of accidents afloat — for both passengers and boat operators.

The Coast Guard reminds mariners that boating and alcohol do not mix. Operating a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs is just as dangerous on water as it is on land. However, in the maritime environment – motion, vibration, engine noise, sun, wind and spray – accelerates a drinker’s impairment. All of these factors combined cause a boat operator’s coordination, judgment and reaction time decline even faster when using alcohol.

There were no injuries or reports of pollution.

Click here to learn more about the dangers of boating under the influence.

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