Fatal boating accident inspires proposed bill for new boater safety laws

"Losing him so senselessly has shaken our community and our boating community as well"

FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ) – The death of a Montgomery County man could push State lawmakers to pass new boater safety laws.

“Losing him so senselessly has shaken our community and our boating community as well” said Jenifer Steger, Boat Safety Advocate.

On June 26th, 43-year-old Joey Reed, of mount sterling, was killed after the Jet Ski he was driving collided head-on with a boat on Cave Run Lake. His partner, Jenifer Steger told lawmakers on Monday that she was among his first responders.

“A cabin cruiser barreled through the flats, unable to get the boat to plane, with the sun in his face and the two vessels collided head-on with full speed, neither seeing the other party” said Steger.

She says she doesn’t blame the other driver, but thinks basic awareness and education on boater safety would have made a difference.

“He wasn’t required to know how to plane a boat, he didn’t have to know the lay of the lake and he didn’t have to know the rules of the road. Because you see in the state of Kentucky, as long as you are 18 years old, you can literally buy yourself a boat, stick it in the water and call yourself a captain” said Steger.

Following Reeds death, Steger, with the help of Republican Senator Ralph Alvarado, a physician from Winchester, is advocating for more boat safety requirements.

In his proposed bill, Senator Alvarado says some of the requirements would include that boaters have to have a Kentucky safe boating certification card onboard, or a recognized equivalent boat operator license from another state or country.

Some exemptions include taking an online course, passing and paying a fee for a 14 day pass for those coming from out of state without the proper requirements.
Boaters with five or more years of experience are also exempt.

Senator Alvarado says fines for not having the proper requirements would range from $50-$200, but that it would not be enacted until 2023…until then boaters would get a warning, as a way to make them aware and encourage them to get the proper documentation.

Monetary fines or the option of being detained for a certain number of hours is also included in the bill if a boater is found to be driving under the influence or negligently.

Hours detained are determined on number of offense.

“We want to make sure we have people who are safe, responsible, educated on what the proper rules of boating are on our lake” said Senator Alvarado.

The legislature is expected to take up the bill in the upcoming legislative session.

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