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Law Requires Prop Guards for Instruction

Published on August 13th, 2018

Suffolk County, a predominantly suburban county on Long Island and the easternmost county in the U.S. state of New York, now requires boats used for instructing minors to be equipped with propeller guards.

The law, which Kellie and Kevin Weiss lobbied for after their 12-year-old son Ryan was killed by a boat propeller (above), is aimed at protecting children like her son.

Example of prop guard

“We stand here forever heartbroken, and though this can’t bring Ryan back to us today, we hope that we have the opportunity to protect somebody else, some other child out there,” said Kellie Weiss.

Ryan died July 18, 2017, during a controlled capsizing lesson at the Centerport Yacht Club in Centerport, NY. After being taken from the water in an inflatable Zodiac boat, Ryan fell overboard when the boat took off and the propeller fatally struck him.

Ryan’s Law states any vessel on Suffolk County waterways used to teach people under age 18 about marine navigation and safety in a formal setting such as an instructional course conducted by a marina, yacht club or boating organization must have a cage or encasement surrounding the propeller “to ensure the safety of students and to protect against accidental injury.”

Costs for installing the propeller guards are estimated to start around $100, county officials said. Fines for first-time violators range between $250 and $500 and then climb to $750 to $1,500 for subsequent offenses.

Ian Milligan, commodore of the Greater Huntington Council of Yacht and Boating Clubs — which represents more than 4,000 recreational boating families in Huntington — said his club fully supported the law, adding his members had volunteered to install such propeller guards themselves.

Some pending amendments are in the works, Milligan said, that would address previous concerns from club members, such as clarifying what kinds of vessels and motors fell under this new law.

Describing the local boating community as “tight-knit” and “like a family,” Milligan said they hoped the law would inspire similar legislation on the state level. “It’s unfortunate that this accident happened, but we’re hoping this law will help to encourage others to take these safety precautions…so they can have the benefit of this lesson without having to go through a tragedy,” Milligan said.


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