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Gov. Cuomo expected to sign Brianna's Law to require boater safety course for all ages

briana lienick 3.jpg
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ALBANY, N.Y. (WRGB) - A bill aimed at stopping deadly boat crashes has passed the state legislature, and CBS6 has learned Gov. Andrew Cuomo is expected to sign it into law.

The legislation comes after two young girls were killed in boat crashes.

Charlotte McCue lost her life right here in our area and Brianna Lieneck was killed in a boat crash off of Long Island.

CBS 6’s Anne McCloy talked to Brianna's mother about her 13-year fight to get Brianna's Law passed.

“It was a big victory, but I was shocked.”

This legislative session marks a major triumph for the family of Brianna Lieneck. The 11-year-old was killed when a boat came crashing into her family's boat at full throttle.

“Came up and over the top of my boat and knocked the 1,200 pound canopy on my daughter and crushed her, all her organs, and broke her neck, and she died instantly,” said Gina Lieneck.

Photos of Brianna's dad and her mother Gina show their critical injuries after the crash. Their 13-year-old daughter Danyelle was also injured, but tried saving her younger sister’s life.

Gina says doctors only gave her a 10 percent chance of survival. She and her husband had to be stabilized before they could even lay Brianna to rest. They now live with life-long medical issues related to the 2005 crash.

Gina says her family's boat was only going about 5 to 10 miles an hour at the time of impact in the Great South Bay. She says the driver of the other boat had no safety training and had been lost on the water for two hours before the crash.

“They did not know how to make a distress call. They did not know how to light off flares, they had no skills whatsoever,” she said.

Right now state law only requires boat drivers to complete a boater safety course if they were born on or after May 1st, 1996, meaning if you’re 23 or younger. That lets older boaters off the hook. Brianna's Law would make boater safety courses mandatory for boaters of all ages if the vessel is motorized.

Assemblywoman Kimberly Jean-Pierre (D- Babylon) is one of the bill sponsors, and told me by phone the governor is expected to sign the legislation into law soon.

Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara (D- Rotterdam) is a bill co-sponsor. He says this legislation may also have made a difference in the boating crash that killed Charlotte McCue on Lake George three years ago.

“It’s just as dangerous to be on water as it is in the road and I don't think people have made that connection,” Santabarbara said.

Brianna's crash happened in 2005. Her family has been fighting for this ever since.

“If I can save one life with having people being educated than it was worth 13 years of a fight,” Gina Lieneck said.

You should know Brianna's Law only applies to drivers of private vessels with a motorized propeller, and will be phased in over five years.

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The legislation has a clause for people renting a boat that will allow people to take an instructional course right before they take the rental out on the water.

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