Investigators seeking cause of N.Y. yacht capsizing (+video)
The July Fourth boating accident has left more questions than answers in the search for a definitive cause.
(Page 2 of 2)
Phil Cusumano, a Boston-based safety instructor and yacht captain with 35 years of experience, said there is no question the boat was badly overloaded. He said he would limit a vessel of that size to six adults. Other boating sites suggested a maximum of 15 passengers.Skip to next paragraph
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
"Twenty-seven is just crazy," Cusumano said. "I wouldn't dream of doing that. I wouldn't do it at the dock, much less take it out on the water. It would tip over with the first turn."
Each Fourth of July, vessels crowd the Long Island Sound shoreline to watch public and private fireworks displays. When the shows end, the exodus can be the nautical equivalent of a highway traffic jam.
Scott Menzies, who said he positioned his 20-foot motor boat in the area to take in the celebration but did not see the accident, estimated there were at least 1,000 vessels on the water.
"It was pretty crazy," he said.
However, conditions on the water were calm during the fireworks and afterward, Menzies said.
Though there was some rain around 10 p.m., conditions were in "no way bad enough" to capsize a large boat on their own, said David Waldo, an expert boater who was also on the water Wednesday night.
Waldo, executive director of the WaterFront Center, a nonprofit sailing school in Oyster Bay, called the number of people aboard the yacht "alarming." School sailboats around the same length have a capacity of seven, he said.
"It's just asking for a situation where things can go wrong and compound on themselves," he said.
Another boater told Newsday he saw the yacht turn and then tip over after it was hit by a wake.
"It was like in slow motion," said Sammy Balasso, of Oyster Bay. "All of a sudden, a lot of bodies were in the water."
Balasso said he put the spotlight of his 38-foot speedboat on the capsized vessel and threw all the life jackets he had into the water. He said he rescued 20 people.
"Everybody was panicking," Balasso said. "People were saying things like 'Why?'"
Azzata said the boat should have had a life jacket for each person on board, but it was unclear if it did. Under state law, children under 12 are not required to wear life vests if they are in the main cabin, where the three victims were.
Mike Treanor, who was related to some of the victims, answered the door at his suburban home in nearby Huntington.
"It's a family tragedy," he said.
Making a Difference