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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – After spending 33 years manning a Miami-Dade County fireboat, retired captain Jack Garcia still lives for the ride.

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Even the tragic loss of his son Andy in a boating accident on the 4th of July couldn’t keep him off the water.

“It’s in my blood. It was in my son’s blood. I brought him up, he was on the water with me since before he could walk,” Garcia told CBS4’s Natalia Zea.

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But as much as he loves being out on the bay, Garcia is staying on dry land this New Year’s Eve.

“I wouldn’t go out on the water that day,” said Garcia.

Andy was one of four people killed in a boat collision after the fireworks show ended on the 4th.

It was similar to the chaotic scenes Garcia has seen during New Year’s Eve working on the fireboat.

“It’s almost like the derby day. As soon as the show’s over you have hundreds of boats, all going in different directions. I can’t stress how dangerous it is,” said Garcia.

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That’s why for the first time, the Coast Guard is implementing a temporary speed zone on New Year’s Eve in Biscayne Bay.

The speed zone slows down boaters on the bay, to a maximum of 15 knots, between the Julia Tuttle Causeway all the way south of Deering Bay Marina.

Any boater caught going over 15 knots could have their boat boarded be law enforcement and be cited.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and local police and fire agencies will also be out in force New Years Eve, stepping up security.

Garcia said the increased regulation and patrols are a step in the right direction, but he said one of the best ways to stay safe is to boat with an experienced operator and to be patient.

“Go out and have a safe time but do it in a safe manner. And at the end of the show don’t be in a hurry to race back, there’s no prize for getting to the dock first,” said Garcia.

And above all he urges amateur boaters to pick another time to enjoy the bay, to hopefully prevent other families from feeling the kind of loss he has suffered.

“If you are not an experienced boater during the day, you are a danger to everybody on the water at night – trust me,” said Garcia.


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