Park Police: Some boaters are risking their lives

Police Put Niagara River Boaters On Alert

NIAGARA FALLS, NY - State Park Police have a warning for boaters and jet ski operators on the Upper Niagara River — don't cross into federally restricted water before Niagara Falls.

Police say there have been too many incidents this summer of people getting too close to the falls.

Park police say those boaters and jet skiers are putting their lives on the line, and are risking the chances of getting sucked into strong current like at Goat Island.

"The danger zone is nothing to play with," said Lt. Clyde Doty, who has been working marine patrol for the State Park Police for 25 years, so he's seen a lot on the water.

So far this summer, there have been 10 incidents of boaters and jet ski operators traveling into dangerous waters on the Upper Niagara River -- the latest incident just two days ago.

"It is high 10 incidents are too many," Doty said.

Last year, police say they only had a few violators.

"Ultimately, they are risking lives initially they're risking damage to their vessels if they were to strike the reef," Doty said, "you risk the danger of floating down towards the falls and getting sucked in and over the falls that's the ultimate danger."

The federally restricted exclusionary zone starts about a quarter mile west of the north Grand Island Bridge. It's marked by buoys and signs warning people that it's a restricted area.

How close are boaters getting to the falls?

Police say they've caught people near Goat Island.

"The current gets stronger there too and it takes more horsepower to go back up river," Doty said.

And, it's not just the Upper Niagara River authorities are warning about. The Coast Guard said that last week on the Lower Niagara River a large group of people who were drunk in inflatable rafts and not wearing proper life jackets.

"The main message is the problem that's been people not in the right place regardless of the reason," Doty said.

So the bottom line to those on the water, pay attention to those buoys and those warning signs. Violators who go into the exclusionary zone could face state or federal charges.

© 2017 WGRZ-TV


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