Two Flushing men, riding a personal watercraft in Jamaica Bay, were killed when they crashed into the support trestle of the subway bridge on Sunday evening, July 4. A local fisherman witnessed the accident and alerted the authorities through a mayday distress call. The National Park Service and NYPD Harbor and Aviation Unit responded and both men arrived at Peninsula Hospital without vital signs.
Witnesses to the accident of Ricky Almadovar, 35, and George Alvarez, 21, said that the watercraft was moving at about 65 miles per hour. Locals complain that some people ride the watercrafts like "maniacs" in Jamaica Bay.
Since the summer season began, the NYPD and the New York State Environmental Conservation Police have been patrolling the waters, issuing summonses to those riders of personal watercrafts that do not follow navigation laws. On Monday, July 5 three men on personal watercrafts were arrested for disobeying navigation laws, having no visible distress flag and disorderly conduct.
According to the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historical Preservation, personal watercrafts account for 30 percent of accidents. Under New York State law, operators of personal watercrafts must complete a boating safety course by January 1, 2004. When using a personal watercraft, state law specifically requires that life jackets be worn, engine cutoff switch be functional and attached to the rider, a working horn/whistle audible for a half mile, and a fluorescent orange flag or other approved distress signal device. Hours of operation are between sunrise and sunset and prohibited activities with a personal watercraft are weaving through congested traffic, last minute swerving, wake jumping too close to other vessels and any maneuver which endangers a life or property.