One Year After Boating Accident in Lockport, Governor Hochul Signs Legislation to Expand Oversight and Prevent Future Tragedies

Government and Politics

June 14, 2024

From: New York Governor Kathy Hochul

Governor Hochul Proposed the Legislation Following Tragic Tour Boat Accident in Lockport Cave That Killed One Passenger and Injured Several Others

S.9241/A.10399 Grants the New York Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation Authority Over Commercial Tourism Boats Operating in Caves

Traducción al español

Governor Kathy Hochul today signed legislation (S.9241/A.10399) granting the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation regulatory authority over commercial tourism boats operating in caves to prevent future tragedies. On June 12, 2023, a tour boat in the privately-run commercial Lockport Caves capsized, killing one passenger and injuring several others. Following this tragic boating accident, the Governor proposed this legislation to help ensure an accident like this does not happen again.

“Following last year's tragic accident in the Lockport Caves, I championed legislation to help prevent future tragedies and protect boat passengers,” Governor Hochul said. “By signing this legislation into law, we are ensuring that we have the necessary oversight authority to keep New Yorkers and tourists safe.”

The Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation regulates commercial boats but does not have the legal authority to regulate the safety of boats operating on non-navigable waters such as in caves on private property. The legislation Governor Hochul signed into law will close this loophole and help prevent future accidents.

State Senator Jose M Serrano said, “The signing of S.9241/A.10399 by Governor Hochul creates a necessary amendment to the navigation law to include the inspection of any vessels operated on non-navigable underground waters. It is important that these vessels are routinely inspected to ensure the safety of operators and passengers alike. Thank you to my colleagues in the state legislature and Governor Hochul for their efforts to set guidelines to keep these attractions safe and operational for all to enjoy.”

State Senator Rob Ortt said, “The signing of this legislation now ensures a state agency clearly has oversight and responsibility for inspecting the vessels used in one of the most unique attractions along the Erie Canal, closing a gap in coverage discovered following last year’s tragic incident. I’d like to thank the Governor for championing this important bill and signing it into law so promptly. I’d also like to thank my colleague Mike Norris for co-sponsoring the bill in the Assembly and to all lawmakers who supported this bill.”

Assemblymember Daniel J. O'Donnell said, “This bill will address the circumstances that led to the tragic incident in Lockport last year - an incident that should have never occurred. Thanks to the leadership of Assembly Member Michael Norris, New Yorkers and tourists will continue to feel safe and protected when visiting our attractions.”

Assemblymember Michael J. Norris said, “I would like to thank Governor Hochul for her leadership on this matter and for taking swift action in signing this important bill today. I would also like to especially recognize my legislative colleagues, Senator Ortt, Chairman Danny O'Donnell and Senator Serrano for working together in bi-partisan manner to address this apparent loophole in state law during this legislative session. I am confident that this legislation now provides the clear authority and responsibility for the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation to inspect these tourist attractions annually which will protect both the patrons who wish to partake in these unique attractions and business operators going forward."