Bernaert was on vacation in New York with his wife Heidi when the drama happened. Some friends who are firefighters visited and took a ride on the East River on Friday evening, June 17th. Their fire boat collided with a tourist boat. Bernaert did not survive.
However, according to the New York Post, Marine 1 Bravo’s boat was not allowed to be used for leisure cruises, but only for medical emergencies.
Also, at least two firefighters had to be on duty at all times – up to three firefighters if they had to go out for emergencies – but that wasn’t the case either. There was only one person on board the ship and four ordinary civilians, including Bernaert and his wife.
Investigators are now trying to find out if the head-on firefighter is acting on behalf of his superiors. Currently, a lieutenant, captain, and battalion chief of the New York Fire Department is being prevented from performing their regular duties while the US Coast Guard investigation continues. However, they were not commented, according to the “New York Post”.
The New York Fire Department declined to say why the four civilians were taken on a fun boat ride. According to the newspaper’s sources, it was “not uncommon” for members of the force to “entertain family and friends on board the firefighters’ boats”.
According to the New York Fire Department, civilians and other firefighters are allowed to sail, but they must obtain permission “from above”: from the Marine Corps captain or the chief of police.
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