Police Say Construction on New York’s Water Highway Poses Danger

Not all busy highways in New York are made of pavement. Traffic on the Hudson River can become congested despite the size of the waterway. Now, it is getting even busier as construction on a new bridge increases. Rockland County Sheriff’s Department Chief William Barbera warns boaters to be aware of the construction.

“It’s going to be a mess for a long time,” he said of the section of the busy waterway undergoing a $3.9 million bridge project. A fatal boat accident prompted the reminder of the need for safe operation and attention — especially while boating around the 90 barges predicted to be in the area during the project.

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The accident occurred on Friday, July 26. A wedding party had been celebrating the upcoming nuptials only a couple of weeks away. At some point in the evening, the speedboat collided with a barge that was moored in the area. The collision caused injuries to four of the boaters and took the life of the bride-to-be and another guest.

The Coast Guard is currently investigating the accident both in regards to how the speedboat itself was operated as well as determining whether there was adequate illumination of the barge. Authorities state that proper lighting includes visibility from at least one nautical mile away “no matter the direction of the approach.” This distance equates to approximately 1.15 miles on land.

Suspicion has been raised through witness accounts that the speedboat’s operator may have been intoxicated at the time.

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Boats are considered motor vehicles even though they don’t have axels with wheels. Even though they require the same level of attention from operators as a car would, it is a duty of care that is often put aside. Those that are injured in a boating accident can consult with an experienced motor vehicle accident attorney to determine possible claims for compensation.

Source: The Washington Post, “Barge involved in wedding-party accident on NY’s Hudson just a hint of river traffic to come,” July 29, 2013

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