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Maryland Authorities Tighten Up On Water Jet Pack Safety

BALTIMORE (WJZ)-- If you've been to Ocean City this summer, you've probably seen the new thrill hundreds of tourists are trying on the water.

They're called water jet packs, which propel riders up to 30 feet above the water's surface. Now Natural Resources police are cracking down on the fad.

Rick Ritter has the story.

Ocean City Businesses tell WJZ the jet packs are a hot commodity this summer, but police say they're being proactive with regulations to make sure there's no accidents or fatalities on the water.

Sky high, and a thriller like no other. It's been the talk of Ocean City this summer and has DNR Police cracking down.

"You need to remember that safety is key," said Julie Brown, a boating education coordinator with the Maryland Natural Resources Police.

Brown helped draft the 180-day regulations for water jet pack businesses.

"They've become a phenomenon over the past year and a half and we'd like to be proactive," said Brown.

As of June, the watercraft's can't be operated within 100 feet of any object or person. Jets packs must be operated in at least six feet of water since they can go under, and businesses are prohibited from launching riders more than 10 feet above the surface.

"In Ocean City, its been a long time since we've had something new, fun and different," said Sean Crosariol, the co-owner of the popular Ocean City Jetovator.

Crosariol says the new rules are a no brainier.

"They did the right thing and we're trying to get their hands on it and say 'look, we need some regulations on it before tourist season and people get hurt,'" he said.

No accidents or injuries have been reported to date in Maryland with the jet packs, but officials say it's still one of their top safety concerns.

"There have been injuries across the country we heard of, and we're hoping to keep those injuries from happening here," said Julie Brown.

Some even question the DNR's proactive approach.

"Nothing seems to be happening wrong with them, so there's not really an issue with safety," said Maryland resident Kenny Robertson.

But Brown says without regulations, the new fad is an accident waiting to happen.

"It could be potentially deadly if you don't follow regulations we're setting up," Brown said.

At the end of the 180 days, DNR Police will have a discussion period to decide whether or not the regulations met their safety concerns.

Violators of the new regulation face a maximum fine of $500.

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