Coast Guard Expresses Concern over Preventable Incidents

 NEW YORK-The U.S. Coast Guard is alarmed at the recent trend of preventable boating and swimming incidents the last two weeks along Long Island’s South Shore that resulted in three fatalities and many more fortunate to be alive. To address this concern, Coast Guard Station Jones Beach boating safety experts are available Friday, July 20, to discuss boater and swimmer safety, demonstrate proper wear and deployment of lifejackets and use of signaling devices, and to spend time aboard a Coast Guard rescue boat to observe the strong currents around Jones Beach area waterways.

“The problem we’ve been having is folks deciding to cool off and jump into the water from their boats or shore,” said Senior Chief Petty Officer Robert Milmoe, Station Jones Beach Officer in Charge. “Unfortunately, the two- to three-knot current is so strong in some channels that even a great swimmer can be swept away instantaneously.”

Among the recent cases:

  • Narish C. Jagdatt, 38, of Hempstead, N.Y., apparently drowned in strong currents while swimming around his vessel near Lido Beach on Reynolds Channel July 6. Of the two other people in the water, one was rescued by a commercial towboat, and one other adult was able to swim back to the anchored vessel. None were wearing life jackets.
  • Ari Figueroa, 38, of North Bellmore, N.Y., died after he sustained a serious neck injury from diving off of an anchored boat into two feet of water near Meadow Island July 6. A Coast Guard Station Jones Beach rescue crew conducted CPR and assisted Figueroa into a Nassau County Police helicopter which took him to Nassau County Medical Center. His family removed him from life support. Figueroa was not wearing a life jacket.
  • William Kennedy (unknown hometown), apparently drowned while riding a boogie board within a few hundred yards of a friends home on Swift Creek, N.Y., when he was apparently swept away by a strong current July 12. A Coast Guard Station Jones Beach rescue crew performed CPR and transported the man to Nassau County Medical Center. Kennedy was not wearing a life jacket.
  • Luigi Dellamonica and Paul Arrigo from Seaford, N.Y., were swimming from their boat near the Wantagh Bridge off Snipe Island, N.Y., when they were swept away by the strong current July 15. A nearby Coast Guard Auxiliary vessel crew spotted them clinging to a bridge piling and stayed with them until a Coast Guard Station Jones Beach rescue crew plucked them both from the water. Neither Dellamonica nor Arrigo were wearing life jackets.

“The Dellamonica and Arrigo case could have easily resulted in the death of these two individuals either by drowning or getting struck by another boat,” said Milmoe. “One of the important lessons to learn here is to swim only in designated areas that are protected by professional lifeguards.”

“It’s only the middle of the summer; we need people to boat safely. Our goal is that the boating public respects the water.” said Milmoe.

The Seven Do’s to Boating Safety:

  1. Do wear an appropriate fitting life jacket. Statistics indicate that 87 percent of all boaters who drowned in 2005 were not wearing a life jacket. Make sure children and weaker swimmers wear one at all times;
  2. Do outfit your vessel with appropriate signaling devices, such as VHF marine band radios, flares, air horns, whistles etc;
  3. Do leave a float plan with a family member or friend and know the area that you will be boating;
  4. Do know and understand the rules of the road while on the waterways;
  5. Do keep an eye out for changing weather and tidal conditions;
  6. Do call the local Coast Guard Auxiliary or Power Squadron for a free vessel safety check;
  7. Do attend boater education classes. Most classes are free and take less than eight hours to complete;

Furthermore, alcohol was either a direct or indirect contributing factor in about 25 percent of all boating fatalities in 2005. Never boat under the influence. According to the Coast Guard Boating Safety Office, a boat operator with a blood alcohol concentration above .10 percent is estimated to be more than 10 times more likely to die in a boating accident than an operator with zero blood alcohol concentration.

“Within the last two weeks, Coast Guard Station Jones Beach, Nassau County Marine and Aviation Bureau, the Town of Hempstead Bay Constables and other local first response agencies have dealt with multiple fatalities in the maritime environment,” said Capt. Daniel Ronan, Captain of the Port of Long Island Sound. “While each circumstance was different, it is significant to note that not one was wearing a life jacket. These tragic deaths are a stark reminder of how important it is to be safe when enjoying the waters in and around Long Island.”

Exercising prudent seamanship and boating safety not only helps save your life and the lives of your passengers.

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