NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — EnCon officers are out on the water in a pre-Fourth of July patrol. They are part of Operation Drywater, which is sponsored by Mothers Against Drunk Driving. They’re looking for drunk boaters and are spreading the word that they will be out patrolling this holiday weekend.
Sgt. Stephen Stanko is an EnCon officer with DEEP and he says in the past, they have seen all kinds of fatalities and injuries from drunk boaters.
“Collisions with other vessels, passengers falling overboard, prop injuries, drownings, people falling overboard…just many incidents. Could be anything,” he said.
He stops Frank Moskey as he heads out into the Sound to go fishing. It’s a routine safety stop for lifesaving equipment.
Cpt. Keith Williams says they check for licenses and registration, but the most important thing is the safety gear.
“Also to make sure they have their boating safety equipment on board, the fire extinguisher, their life jackets for each person on board and I-type for throw ring. They were compliant. No issues,” he said.
Frank Moskey says boater safety begins the second you leave the dock. It’s not an afterthought. All too often he sees boaters out there doing the wrong thing.
“Frustrating. You don’t want to see people get hurt and they do without even trying so you got to play it safe. Yes, you have to be safe,” he said.
A lot of people come up with every excuse in the book why not to wear a life jacket. Some common ones are that it’s big and bulky or it’s uncomfortable.
Eleanor Mariani is the director of the DEEP Boating Division. She says the latest and greatest flotation device can be worn on two small straps around your neck and then you pull to inflate it, similar to a life jacket on an airline.
“35% of our accidents are people just falling off of the boat. You would think it’s a high-powered accident, but it is not. It is just falling off the boat.If people had their life jackets on, it could save their life,” she said.