°
High: °
Low: °
Wind:
Chance of precipitation:

Forecast

close

Sea tragedies all too common

Wednesday's tragic accident on Long Island Sound that left one teenager dead and another with serious injuries shocked the Greenwich community. But it was a reminder of the dangers that can exist on the water. Each year, recreational boating takes hundreds of lives, and Connecticut is not immune.

"Accidents aren't common, but unfortunately, they're not uncommon enough," said Greenwich Harbor Master Ian McMillan

Nationwide, the U.S. Coast Guard reported 4.7 deaths per 100,000 registered recreational watercraft in 2013 -- 560 fatalities in all, with operator inattention, operator inexperience and improper lookout accounting for largest number. All four girls involved in Wednesday's accident are under the age of 18, and while their level of experience is unknown, inexperience is believed to be behind 385 accidents, 34 deaths and 262 injuries last year.

And 2013's death toll was down from previous years, representing a 14 percent drop from 2013.

In Connecticut, the Coast Guard reported 35 accidents last year, one of them fatal.

The number of total accidents in the state has generally dropped over the past five years: 2012 saw 49 accidents, six of them fatal; 2011 had 42 accidents, eight fatal. There were 52 accidents in 2010, six fatal; and 56 crashes in 2009, one fatal. Connecticut ranked 33rd nationally in statewide boating accidents in 2013.

There have been recent deaths in the waters off Fairfield County. On July 22, 2012, Keith Morris, a New Rochelle, N.Y. firefighter, left a Stamford dockside bar with a blood alcohol content of 0.25, more than three times the legal boating limit. He veered his boat into a seawall in Stamford Harbor, tossing him and passengers overboard, and trapping others inside. Morris drowned, the sole fatality.

Just weeks before the Stamford accident, three children were killed in the waters across from Greenwich in Oyster Bay, N.Y. when their overcrowded yacht tipped during a Fourth of July fireworks show.

In Greenwich last summer, police prevented another potential tragedy when a speedboat bucked its drivers and began to rocket skipperless across Long Island Sound. Two Police Marine Division officers were eventually able to drive up alongside the runway boat, board it at 50 miles per hour and cut the engine.

Such incidents are a reminder of the everpresent dangers of going out to sea, said McMillan.

"I can't stress enough, the sea is an unforgiving host," he said. "It is beautiful in many ways but there is death around every corner."

Comments

loading