By Connor Beach
Members of Huntington’s delegation to the state legislature are looking to pass legislation they hope will prevent boating accidents on state waterways.
The legislation, known as Ryan’s Law, is named for 12-year-old Ryan John Weiss who was tragically killed in July 2017 during an instructional boating lesson in the waters off Centerport Yacht Club.
The legislation mirrors a Suffolk County law passed last year requiring all motorboats used to instruct children under the age of 18 have a propeller guard installed around the vessel propeller.
Assemblyman Andrew Raia (R- East Northport) sponsored the bill last year in the State Assembly, but it failed to gain the traction needed to pass the State Senate. Last week, freshman senator Jim Gaughran (D- Northport) introduced Ryan’s Law in the State Senate.
“This bill is going to save lives,” Gaughran said. “It’s tragic that we lost Ryan, and this common sense boating safety bill will prevent a tragedy like this from ever happening again.”
Raia, who is reintroducing the legislation in the Assembly, called on state lawmakers to pass Ryan’s Law in time for the next boating season.
“Boating is a wonderful activity that many residents in our district take part in, but in light of recent tragedies, I believe that this law will provide an additional level of safety for our children while respecting the freedom of boaters at large,” Raia said.
Assemblyman Steve Stern (D- Huntington Station) said he would join Gaughran and Raia in support of Ryan’s Law.
Legislator William Spencer (D- Centerport), the lead sponsor of Suffolk’s version of Ryan’s Law, praised the state for broadening the bill to include all of New York.
“The devastating loss of Ryan and the strength and resiliency of the Weiss family continues to motivate us,” Spencer said.
During a press conference on Jan. 18, Ryan’s mother Kellie Weiss said she and her family have chosen to honor Ryan’s legacy by advocating for boating safety.
“Nothing will change the outcome for us, but hopefully no other family will have to go through this,” Weiss said.
Gaughran said he is hopeful Ryan’s Law will move quickly to the Senate floor for a vote.