Coast Guard enforces safe, responsible boating with Operation Dry Water Campaign

Hampden County

SOUTH HADLEY, Mass. (WWLP) – Every 4th of July weekend, boaters take to the waters in Massachusetts.

For that reason, law enforcement agencies and the U.S. Coast Guard teamed up this weekend to launch their “Operation Dry Water Campaign.” It’s intended to prevent boating accidents, related to drugs and alcohol.

“Everyone goes out there and wants to have fun which is the key thing everyone wants to do but a lot of people do drink a lot and they need to be careful, be more aware of other people,” John Pirog, a Chicopee boater told 22News. “I want to bring my family home safe everyday just like anyone else should.”

It was an absolutely beautiful day for boating at Brunelle’s Marina Sunday. Luke Brunelle, President of Brunelle’s Marina said the Connecticut River Task Force has played a big part in increasing the safety of the waters and reducing the number of boating accidents.

“Law enforcement is out there. I got some reports they did some towing, they got some people in,” Brunelle told 22News. “They are really doing more education than arresting you. But if someone is drinking and driving, then yeah, you’re coming off the river.”

Brunelle said he hasn’t seen the Connecticut River this crowded for the 4th of July in a long time. Other boaters 22News spoke with Sunday made sure to keep their distance.

“We’re slow goers so we’re kind of going by the book,” Dawn Bartolucci said.

“Absolutely,” Vernon Cole of Springfield added.

“So whatever else people are doing, we are just kind of out of the way,” Bartolucci continued. “It seems safe out there. Everyone seems to respect each other and follow the rules.”

Those rules include boating at least 150 feet away from swimming areas and always having life jackets on board. Children under the age of 12 must always have one on.

According to the U.S. Coast Guard, there were more than 4,100 recreational boating accidents, 2,500 injuries, and 600 deaths in 2019.

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