County Executive hosts press conference on July 4 safety

Safe boating, drunk driving and fireworks discussed

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On Thursday June 30, Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone hosted a press conference during which he was joined by experts and advocates to discuss safety over the holiday weekend.


“This is a great time of the year for us in Suffolk County,” Bellone said. “This is why we love living here. It’s boating season, it’s summer, beaches and barbecues. This island is made for the summer season and we are approaching the height of it right now. But we know when you are celebrating, as people are gathering together there’s also potential dangers that come with that. If you are drinking, have a plan. Do not drive under the influence.”


Gina Lieneck, who’s daughter Brianna was killed almost 17 years ago in a boating accident spoke about the importance of being safe on the water. Since Brianna’s death, Lieneck helped to push Brianna’s law which aims to make boating safer by requiring boat owners to complete a boater safety course. Brianna’s law was signed into law by former Governor Andrew M. Cuomo in 2019 and went into effect in January of 2020.


Lieneck said that although her family’s tragedy happened 17 years ago they still feel its effects today.
“I never want to see what happened to my family happen to anyone else,” Lieneck said.


Dave Anderson, the Director of Operations at Fire Island Ferries noted the importance of being alert on the water and staying out of the way of the ferries.
“I do have a great job but that great job comes with a lot of headaches," Anderson said.  "And there are plenty of times when I worry about my captains and my crew that are out there operating at night and under bad weather.”
In response to a question about how boaters can help the ferries Anderson’s suggestion was simple.
“It’s plain and simple,” Anderson said. “Just stay out of our way.”


Suffolk County Police Commissioner Rodney K. Harrison spoke about the importance of leaving fireworks to the professionals.

“July 4, always brings out a time of fireworks and if handled incorrectly it can be a recipe for disaster,” Harrison said. “And too often in my long law enforcement career during the July 4th holiday I’ve seen too many injuries occur.”
Harrison noted that last year in Suffolk County a 13 year old boy had a mortar blow up in his face and another man had a firecracker explode in his hand during the July 4 weekend.
“We are asking for anyone if you happen to see anybody lighting off fireworks in public call 911 so we can get an appropriate response and potentially stop somebody from getting hurt,” Harrison said.


Suffolk County Fire, Rescue and Emergency Services Commissioner Pat Beckley touched upon the importance of safety when using grills.
“You don’t want to have any propane indoors,” Beckley said. “Never leave your grill
unattended.”


At the press conference a car filled with illegal fireworks was set on fire to demonstrate the danger of fireworks being used by non-professionals.

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