Boater Safety Concerns Grow in Ocean City - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Boater Safety Concerns Grow in Ocean City

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Pontoon Boat rental in Ocean City (WBOC) Pontoon Boat rental in Ocean City (WBOC)

OCEAN CITY, Md.- In the wake of increased boater accidents and deaths, concerns grow about boater safety along the waterways in Ocean City.

According to Maryland Department of Resources Natural Resource Police, 17 people were on board a pontoon boat Wednesday afternoon when 9-year-old Kaden Frederick of Howell, New Jersey fell off and was struck and killed by the boat's propeller. 

Frederick was the 12th person killed while boating this year in Maryland and one of four this week alone. 

The bayside in Ocean City is a popular area for boats, many of which are rentals and are operated by tourists. Jackie Cutlip owns Bayside Boat Rentals in Ocean City and said her business as well as the other boat rental businesses in Ocean City are governed by specific rules and regulations mandated by the DNR prior to allowing a driver to rent a boat. 

Maryland law first requires age verification for boat operators. Anyone born after July 1, 1972 must take and pass a boater safety test. Once they pass the test rental owners issue the operator a temporary boater safety certificate. 

Robert Thomas from Berlin loves to fish and boat in Ocean City and said he has issues with the one day certification. 

"Honestly if people would have to pass their boaters safety course and not have to get just a one day boater safety course card, it would honestly make the waterways here in Ocean City a lot safer. It's just people they don't care, they're just careless, make mistakes and those mistakes end up costing," Thomas said. 

Cutlip said some variations with boat rental businesses do exists, but state law requirements are specific. 

"Every rental company can choose to do their own thing, any boat that you get on period whether it's personalized or not it's going to have a US Coast Guard plate on it which is going to say weight limit or the capacity number of people," Cutlip said. 

Cutlip said for her customers she believes she goes above and beyond state requirements by also providing a detailed hands on safety briefing. She said the recent increase in boating accidents is troubling. 

Maryland Sen. Jim Mathias said public safety is paramount and he is waiting for the US Coast Guard and DNR police to complete their investigation to determine if any regulations need to be addressed to ensure the safety of boaters in Ocean City.  


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