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Another Connecticut boating accident


Posted on behalf of D'Amico & Pettinicchi, LLC on Aug 03, 2015 in Boating Accidents

Several local news outlets have reported that 2 teenagers were critically injured Sunday while tubing behind a skiff boat (that term typically refers to a small boat).  From the Hartford Courant's report, it sounds as if the tube the girls were in struck a moored yacht.  

This incident follows recent changes in Connecticut law concerning boating safety age limits and educational requirements enacted after the tragic death of a 16-year old honors student on Long Island Sound last year in an accident that also involved towing.   

"Emily's Law," which goes into effect October 1st, is named after Emily Fedorko, the teenager that died in last summer's incident in Greenwich.  It establishes a minimum age (16) for towing people behind a boat.  (The law previously stated that you needed to be just 13 years old to operate a boat, with a safe boating certificate).  The new law also requires boaters to complete safe towing instruction before earning a boating certificate.  It can be seen in its entirety here:http://www.cga.ct.gov/2015/ACT/pa/pdf/2015PA-00025-R00SB-00699-PA.pdf

While the risks involved with towing are well known by boatbuilders, manufacturers, distributors, and experienced boaters, they are much less well understood by the general public.  The marine industry aggressively encourages novice boaters to engage in tubing, which is considerably easier--but no less dangerous--than water-skiing.

The Connecticut Boater's Guide has a number of tubing safety tips including:

  • remembering that riders do not have the directional control that water skiers have;
  • securely fasten the line – use a heavy duty line designed for towing tubes; check condition regularly;
  • knowing the area ahead of time;
  • maintaining a safe distance between the tube and other boats, piers and floating platforms; and
  • using caution when making turns – tube speed increases during a turn and riders can fall off or be thrown; never have the tuber on the inside of a turn; plan ahead of the turn to make sure tube will have room to safely pass other boats or docks

With respect to speed it states:

  • "When no limits are posted, operate the boat so it will not endanger others. The boat must be able to stop safely within the clear distance ahead. When passing near marinas, fishing areas, swimming areas, a vessel at anchor, or similar places, reduce speed. Operators are responsible for damage caused by their wakes. In Connecticut, speed is limited by law for certain conditions and areas. Comply with posted regulatory signs and the regulations printed within this chapter. Every vessel must, under crowded conditions or in reduced visibility, go at a moderate speed with careful regard for existing circumstances and conditions. Actions such as speeding in confined or restricted areas or skiing at prohibited times or in restricted areas can also be construed as reckless or negligent operation."

The Boater's Guide is available free on the Department of  Energy & Environmental Protection's web site: http://www.ct.gov/deep/lib/deep/boating/boating_guide/boaterguide.pdf

It states that reckless operation is the failure to exercise the degree of care necessary to prevent endangering another person or their property.