SARATOGA LAKE, NY (NEWS10) – Saratoga County Sheriff Michael Zurlo announced Tuesday that local law enforcement will crack 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 City of Stillwater Police will together strengthen their enforcement.
NEWS10’s Giuliana Bruno took a ride on a marine patrol boat with sheriff’s deputies to learn about their enforcement protocols.
“When we stop on our ship and look at the equipment, if everything is fine on their ship, we ask them their age and ask them if they have a boater’s safety card,” said Deputy Matthew Ball. “If they don’t, we will ask for a driver’s license in order to have their information, and we can explain to them that by 2025 you will have to have it, depending on your age.”
Brianna’s Law requires boat drivers take a one-time course to obtain and carry the New York Boating Safety Certificate.
Deputy Ball checks flotation devices, a fire extinguisher and other necessary safety items on board when he stops a boater for a traffic violation. Sergeant Guy Gurney said educating boaters is more important to his officers than giving them tickets, but they hand them out when they have to.
“Sometimes people need a little extra push to motivate themselves to get their ships where they need to be,” Sergeant Gurney said.
More boats on the water provide more opportunities for potential accidents.
“We know boat sales are up again this year,” Saratoga County Sheriff Michael Zurlo said.
Last year, on July 4, Ian Gerber, 20, was killed on Lake Saratoga after jumping from a pontoon boat operated by Blake Heflin, 20, who, along with another boat, ran into Gerber, him causing fatal injuries. Heflin pleaded guilty to third-degree assault and boating while intoxicated. He was sentenced in April to three years probationary service.
“There is absolutely no reason for anyone to drive a motorized craft under the influence of alcohol or drugs. If you see anyone operating a vessel in this condition, please call us,” Sheriff Zurlo said.