OYSTER BAY, N.Y. — A sunken yacht on which three children died during an Independence Day fireworks outing was tethered on Friday to prevent it from drifting away but must be raised from the water before investigators can determine what caused it to capsize.
There were 10 children and 17 adults aboard the Kandi Won when it tipped over and sank after the July Fourth nighttime fireworks show, trapping three children in the main cabin. Boating experts said the vessel was too full and was bound to capsize. That, combined with weather and a strong wave, might have doomed the yacht as it was steering toward land amid a throng of holiday boaters on Long Island Sound.
On Friday, a line was tied from police boats to the 34-foot-long sunken vessel so it wouldn’t drift. The Navy and Coast Guard may help raise the boat, which is 60 feet below the surface.
The Silverton yacht was built in 1984.
The yacht’s owner, Kevin Treanor, who’s related to some of the victims, bought it in April 2011, boating records show.
An insurance company lawyer who’s representing him, James Mercante, said he’d like to know if something mechanical was responsible, “if something gave way. … Thirty-four-foot boats shouldn’t roll over, with or without people on it,” he said.
Mercante lambasted reports that there were not enough life jackets on board when the vessel sank, noting that the three children who died were in the cabin, where no life vests were required by law.
“There were enough life jackets on board for every person on board and more,” he said. “There were plenty of life jackets on board. The life jackets had nothing to do with this incident.”
Nassau County Detective Lt. John Azzata said the cause remained under investigation but possibilities include the weather, overcrowding and a wake from another vessel. He said the area was busy with boaters watching the fireworks.
Boater Scott Menzies, who said he positioned his 20-foot motor boat in the area to take in the celebration but didn’t see the accident, said conditions on the water were calm during the fireworks and afterward. The National Weather Service said a thunderstorm moved through the area about 20 minutes after the first 911 call and winds never exceeded 10 to 15 mph.
The boat’s skipper, Sal Aureliano, told TV’s News12 Long Island on Thursday that he saw two lightning bolts and then a wave suddenly hit the yacht off Oyster Bay, on the north shore of Long Island.
“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.”
Killed were Aureliano’s nephew David Aureliano, 12, and two girls, Harley Treanor, 11, and Victoria Gaines, 8.