Deaths of Three Children on Capsized Long Island Yacht a Grim Reminder for Vigilant Boating Safety
By Dean I Weitzman, Esq. on July 13th, 2012
The July 4 holiday was tragically marred on Long Island’s Oyster Bay in New York when a 34-foot-long private yacht capsized following a holiday fireworks show, trapping and killing three children who were inside the boat’s cabin.
Since the disaster, investigators have pored over the wreckage of the yacht, which had to be pulled from a depth of about 60 feet after it sank in the bay, according to an Associated Press story in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “Police have said a variety of factors, including overcrowding — there were 10 children and 17 adults aboard the 34-foot Kandi Won — weather and possible mechanical malfunctions could have caused the accident,” the story reported.
The 11-year-old daughter of the boat’s owner was among those killed in the incident, the story said. An attorney for the owner “insisted at a news conference … that overcrowding was not a cause of the accident” and that the “vessel was equipped with the required number of life jackets for all 27 passengers.”
The man who piloted the boat told investigators that “he saw two lightning bolts and then a wave suddenly hit the boat,” the story reported. “The National Weather Service said a thunderstorm moved through the area about 20 minutes after the first 911 call at 10:10 p.m., and winds never exceeded 10 to 15 mph.”
Many of the passengers on the boat were rescued by fellow boaters in the area after the yacht capsized, according to a report from FoxNews.com.
The yacht was finally recovered from the bay’s bottom this week, a process which was made difficult due to swift currents and murky waters in the area, according to a story in The New York Post.
The investigation into the deadly incident continues, but it should serve to remind us all of the always-present dangers that lurk in any body of water.
In fact, the accident wasn’t the only one that claimed innocent lives on New York waterways in recent weeks, according to a story on Newsday.com.
A 39-year-old Islip, N.Y., man died late last month when the fishing boat he was in off Captree Island was struck broadside by a powerboat operated by another man who was charged with boating while intoxicated, Newsday reported. The two incidents coming so closely together “has galvanized boating safety groups pushing for mandatory education,” the paper said.
Across the U.S., there were 672 fatalities in boating accidents in 2010, the last year in which full statistics are available, according to U.S. Coast Guard statistics and SafeBoatingCampaign.com. That’s down from 736 fatalities in 2009, according to the statistics.
The U.S. Coast Guard’s Boating Safety Resource Center web site reminds boaters that wearing a life vest is the most important step that boaters can take to ensure their safety on the water.
Boaters should also conduct a safety check of equipment, passengers and all systems before heading out on the water, as well as having completed boating safety courses and emergency information plans, or “float plans.”
You can even take a free, online boat safety course through the Boat U.S. Foundation for Boating Safety & Clean Water.
No want wants to have to endure a tragedy on the water and the best way to prevent such disasters is through good training and knowing the limits of your vessel and the waters you are navigating.
Boating safety begins with all of us.
There is still plenty of summer weather left and we hope that tragedies like the recent incidents off Long Island are not repeated.
Accidents can happen anywhere, on the roads, on the water, in the air and on public or private property. Preserving your rights and claims is critical following an accident, so be sure to take steps to protect yourself and your loved ones.
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