BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Along Lake Erie, a boat whizzes by with sirens blaring and lights flashing. The sergeants aboard the Marine Unit are responding to a call of an abandoned boat.
The call winds up being nothing, but the Sheriff’s office members respond with great urgency, ready to address whatever issues they’re facing.
The members are spending more time on the lake now as boating season is officially starting up, running from Memorial Day to Labor Day. They’re expecting several thousand people to be in the more than 90 miles of lake shore area they’re responsible for patrolling.
“We definitely aren’t out there to ruin people’s good times,” said Sgt. Timothy Dusza. “We simply want to see people being safe and have a good time.”
The sergeant says that means following the rule and laws while on the lake, including sharing the waterways. This reminder is coming as more paddle crafts, like kayaks and paddleboards, are being reported on the water.
Some reminders include having life vests on deck, having lights on the boat, a life preserver nearby, following the speed limits, and not drinking if operating the vessel.
The Sheriff’s office says they’re seeing a significant increase in BWI arrests. They had 11 last year, up from four the year before.
Avid boaters say they’re appreciative of the marine unit’s vigilance.
“It’s just like a car,” said Brian Johnston, who has been boating since he was a child. “You don’t want anybody there riding around too messed up.”
The Sheriff’s department offers safety courses to remind people of these rules and laws. Johnston says he has taken several of the courses and he wishes everyone who is going to be in the water would take them too before the season picks up.
For information about boating safety or to report an incident to the marine unit, you can contact the sheriff’s department at (716) 873-9614.