STAMFORD, Conn. — As the summer boating season hits full swing, Stamford firefighters are urging boaters to exercise caution after a fatal accident in Stamford Harbor and a serious collision on Long Island Sound.
In the first accident, on June 24, the body of a missing boater was pulled from Stamford Harbor. Jose Diaz had been reported missing that evening after last being seen on the back swim platform of a 38-foot cabin cruiser.
That same weekend, a man in Darien was rushed to the hospital with a serious leg injury after a 33-foot sailboat collided with an anchored 20-foot center-console on the Sound. The driver of the sailboat had reportedly stepped away from the wheel to go below deck to retrieve something.
Serious boating accidents are unfortunately a staple of the summer season along the Sound and the risks require constant vigilance, firefighters said.
“As emergency first responders, we see all too often the serious and sometimes tragic results of boating accidents and the grief they can cause for families,” said Brendan Keatley, President of the Stamford Professional Fire Fighters Association.
“That is why it is vital that boat captains and their crews familiarize themselves with safety protocols and do everything possible to guard against disaster. The goal should be for everyone to have fun on the water this summer but make sure you return safe.”
To create a safer environment, it is imperative that boaters plan ahead. Before heading out on the water, boaters should follow a pre-departure checklist to confirm that the boat is in proper working order and has all proper safety equipment up and working. This includes sufficient life jackets for all passengers, especially children.
Boaters should ensure that a marine radio, first aid kit, air horns and distress signaling devices such as flares are on their vessel.
It is recommended that a float plan, detailing your destination, be left with someone on shore.
Boaters must also recognize the massive danger associated with operating a boat while intoxicated. Operating a boat while under the influence can lead to crashes as well as injury or worse to passengers and other innocent boaters.
Additionally, in today’s age of smartphones, it is simple to check the weather forecast before departing to avoid hitting bad storms on the water.
Stamford is one of the most popular summertime destinations on the Sound. Every summer, the city’s 20 marinas, mooring fields and docking facilities see over 1,000 maritime craft. The city’s 14.3 mile shoreline plays host to thousands of daily visitors, including swimmers, boaters, jet skiers, fishermen and families.
The Stamford Fire Department, together with the city’s police department, is responsible for responding rapidly to any and all emergencies along the city’s busy stretch of coastline -- both on land and on water.
"Emergency preparedness can make the vital difference in staying alive until help arrives. The best way for boaters to keep themselves and their passengers safe is through preparation and safety education. In order to prevent an emergency, one should be prepared for one," the fire department said.