Florida Fish and Wildlife officers patrol Brevard County waterways

Authorities work to make sure boaters stay safe during holiday weekend

By Justin Warmoth - Anchor
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BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. - On one of the busiest holiday weekends of the year, Florida Fish and Wildlife officers are out patrolling the waterways in Brevard County to make sure boaters are staying safe and following the rules.

Local 6 rode along with FWC Lt. Bryan Lee and officers Jeff Luce and Nick Bohne on Friday as they observed the Banana River outside of Cocoa.

According to Bohne, July Fourth often brings inexperienced boaters who are not aware of the safety guidelines and equipment they are supposed to legally have on board.

Several stops they made Friday were due to boaters blowing through Manatee Zones or not wearing their life jackets.

"So it's really important that you go through all of your safety gear and all that stuff, and make sure it's up to date and also be mindful of the zones, OK?" Bohne said to a family he had pulled over.

The family had been speeding in a Manatee Zone and then upon inspection the officers found that two children under the age of 6 were not wearing life jackets -- a FWC law.

In addition, the officers were on the lookout for those who could be boating under the influence; a major problem they said that many boaters are not thinking through.

"A large portion of our fatalities are resulting in boating under the influence," said Bohne. "A lot of people think that because the island is so close to a boat ramp, they're going to be fine only going a short distance, but then they also have to back the trailer in, load up the boat and then also drive home."

The FWC plans to step up patrols through Sunday, making sure everyone has a safe Fourth of July weekend.

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