SARATOGA LAKE, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Saratoga County Sheriff Michael Zurlo announced Tuesday that local law enforcement agencies will be cracking down on reckless and impaired boating on area waterways ahead of the summer season. Sheriff’s Deputies, New York State Police, New York Park Police, New York Environmental Conservation Police, and Town of Stillwater Police together will step up their enforcement.
NEWS10’s Giuliana Bruno took a ride on a marine patrol boat with Sheriff’s deputies to learn more about their enforcement protocols.
“When we do our vessel stops and we go through the equipment, if everything‘s good on their vessel, we will ask their age, and ask if they have a boater safety card,” explained Deputy Matthew Ball. “If they don’t, we’ll ask for a drivers license so we have their information, and we can explain to them that, by 2025 you’ll be required to have it, based on the age you are.”
Brianna’s Law requires that boat operators complete a one-time course to obtain and carry the New York boating safety certificate. Deputy Ball checks for floatation devices, a fire extinguisher, and other necessary safety items on board when he pulls over a boater for a traffic violation.
Sgt. Guy Gurney said it’s more important for his officers to educate boaters than to ticket them, but they do hand them out when they have to. “Sometimes, people need a little extra push to motivate themselves to get their vessels up to where they need to be,” he said.
More boats on the water bring more opportunities for potential accidents. “We know boat sales are up again this year,” said Saratoga County Sheriff Michael Zurlo.
Last year on July 4, 20-year-old Ian Gerber was killed on Saratoga Lake after he jumped off a pontoon boat operated by 20-year-old Blake Heflin, who, along with another boat, hit Gerber, causing his fatal injuries. Heflin pleaded guilty to third-degree assault and boating while intoxicated. He was sentenced in April to three years of probationary service.
“There’s absolutely no reason for any person to operate a motorized vessel under the influence of alcohol or drugs. If you see someone operating a vessel in that condition, call us please,” said Sheriff Zurlo.