Wednesday, December 11, 2013
The Associated Press
OYSTER BAY, N.Y. — A yacht that capsized with 27 friends and family aboard on an outing to watch Fourth of July fireworks was severely overcrowded and doomed to tip over, safety experts said Thursday as the skipper blamed the tragedy on a wave that came out of the dark.
Two Nassau County police boats are stationed near the opening to the Long Island Sound in Lloyd Harbor, N.Y., today. Investigators are trying to learn more about the crucial seconds before a yacht capsized off Long Island, killing three children and leaving 24 others scrambling for their lives. Efforts to raise the boat might begin as early as Friday. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
Three children died after getting trapped Wednesday night in the cabin of the 34-foot vessel off Oyster Bay, on the north shore of Long Island.
Sal Aureliano, who was at the helm of the Candi I, told TV's News12 Long Island that he saw two lightning bolts and then a wave suddenly hit.
"It turned the boat around," he said, his voice cracking. "It just turned the boat. I didn't see it. It was dark. I didn't see it."
Aureliano's nephew David Aureliano, 12, and two girls, Harley Treanor, 11, and Victoria Gaines, 8, died. The 24 other passengers, adults and children, were rescued from the water, mostly by fellow boaters, and were not seriously hurt.
The cause of the accident was under investigation, but it could have been the weather, overcrowding, the wake from another vessel or a combination of factors, said Nassau County Detective Lt. John Azzata. The area was crowded with boaters watching the fireworks, he said.
The Silverton yacht, built in 1984 but purchased recently, was under 60 feet of water Thursday, and officials worked to raise it. The yacht company filed for bankruptcy in April, and no one was available to say what the maximum number aboard should be.
Phil Cusumano, a Boston-based safety instructor and yacht captain, said there is no question the boat was badly overloaded.