By Connor Beach
Just over a year after 12-year-old Ryan John Weiss was killed in a tragic boating accident in Centerport Harbor, Suffolk County officials hope a new law will prevent similar tragedies.
County Executive Steve Bellone signed into law Tuesday a bill that requires instructional vessels to have propeller guards installed.
The bill, known as Ryan’s Law, was written by Suffolk Legislator William “Doc” Spencer (D-Centerport) and unanimously approved by the county legislature in June after all 17 of his colleagues signed on as co-sponsors- a first in Suffolk history, according to Spencer.
“Through this difficult time, we have watched the Weiss family display bravery, dignity and resolve,” Spenser said. “This legislation will make boating safer for children, not only in Suffolk County, but around our nation, as other states move to adopt a similar law.”
The legislation states that “any vessel utilized to teach minors about marine navigation and safety in a formal setting, such as an instructional course conducted by a marina, yacht club or boating organization” is required to have a propeller guard when operating in Suffolk waterways.
A first-time fine of $250-$500 has been created. Convictions for all subsequent offenses can bring a fine of $750-$1,500 per offense.
It is an honor to our family that this law is in Ryan’s name,” Kellie Weiss, Ryan’s mom, said.
“Our hearts are forever broken, but we want to protect other children and families for suffering such a loss. This law protects children in instructional boating programs, and many recent stories lead us to believe that the majority of local clubs have already put this into place.”
Commodore Erik H. Rosanes, of the Centerport Yacht Club, also expressed support for the Weiss family and Ryan’s Law.
“As we continue in our Club’s mission to encourage the sport of yachting and educate the next generation of sailors, we look forward to promoting any measures that may improve the safety of our children in and on the water,” he said.
Ryan’s Law will go into effect 90 days after it is filed in the Office of the Secretary of State.
By Connor Beach