Three children have died and 24 other people have been pulled from the water after the overloaded yacht they were on capsized during Fourth of July celebrations.
David Aureliano 12, Harlie Treanor, 11, and eight-year-old Victoria Gaines were found in the sunken boat’s cabin near Long Island’s Oyster Bay – around 35 miles from New York City.
The yacht was carrying 27 passengers – nearly twice its maximum number. The 34-foot Silverton vessel has a maximum capacity of 15 people.
The tragic deaths of the children, who were all related, came after the entire group was thrown into the water while watching fireworks.
Authorities are also investigating if poor weather conditions or a wave from the wake of another boat contributed to the accident. No criminal charges have been filed but the investigation is ongoing.
The boat was being operated by two men, who are brothers-in-law, and they had not been drinking, authorities said. One of the men, Harlie Treanor’s father Kevin Treanor, owns the boat.
Witnesses reported seeing the vessel capsize after trying to turn and hitting a wave left behind one of the scores of boats on the water.
Sal Aureliano, the other man operating the boat and David’s uncle, told News 12 he saw two lightning bolts and then a wave suddenly hit.
‘We were coming home when a wave got us, and it turned the boat around,’ he said. ‘[The wave] was off to the side. I didn’t see it. It just happened.
‘The next thing I know, we’re turning, and we just kept turning, and everybody was in the water. It was chaos.
As the yacht started sinking just after 10 p.m., owners of private boats began dragging people to safety until crews from fire departments and law enforcement agencies arrived on the scene.
Nassau County Deputy Inspector Kenneth Lack said that most of the people dragged from the water were taken to hospital for observation and all have now been released.
He added that the operation was delayed because of the difficulty in conducting a research attempt in the dark. All 27 passengers were in the water at one point, he said.
‘(There were) a lot of people in the water,’ Lack said. ‘It was a tremendous response from all the agencies. Most people were taken aboard other crafts very quickly.’
But police said the rescue operation was hampered not only by the number of victims in the water but also due to the sheer number of boats out celebrating the holiday.
Only some of the passengers on the doomed yacht had been wearing life jackets.
Detective John Azzata of the Nassau County Police Department Homicide Squad said it was a legal requirement that there had to be enough life jackets for everyone on board.
He said officers have not been able to determine if there were 27 life jackets on the boat because it is still 60 feet under water.
Source: The Daily Mail