Nassau Police Raising Sunken Boat Where 3 Kids Drowned

Nassau County police and FBI divers are working to lift a boat that was full of Fourth of July fireworks spectators when it capsized and sank near Oyster Bay, killing three children trapped in the cabin.

The 34-foot (10-meter) Silverton vessel with 27 people aboard overturned at 10:10 p.m. July 4 off Bayville, between Centre Island and Lloyd Neck, about 35 miles northeast of Manhattan. While 24 people were rescued, the bodies of David Aureliano, 12, Harley Treanor, 11, and Victoria Gaines, 8, were found in the cabin.

The boat is about 60 feet down, Carrie Shapiro, a Nassau County police spokeswoman, said today in a telephone interview.

“We won’t know much more until it’s out of the water,” she said.

Investigators are trying to determine whether the sinking was caused by another boat’s wake, weather or overcrowding, James Imperiale, a police spokesman, said last week. They are also looking into how many life jackets were aboard the craft and whether a mechanical failure contributed to the capsizing.

A New York City-area based FBI dive team is using a balloon-like system to help lift the boat, Kelly Langmesser, an spokeswoman, said in a telephone interview today.

“The team trains here and is on call to go into rivers, the sea or wherever they’re needed,” Langmesser said.

Murky Timing

The investigation into the sinking will be left to the local police, she said.

Murky water has slowed the lifting and the boat probably won’t surface until tomorrow morning, Langmesser said.

U.S. Coast Guard rules require vessels to carry one personal flotation device for each passenger, while state law calls for children under 12 to wear them at all times except when in a boat’s cabin, Imperiale said

The Coast Guard doesn’t set maximum capacities for vessels over 26 feet long, said Petty Officer Erik Swanson. Boaters should use “common sense” or an overloaded boat can become unsafe and difficult to handle, he said. Coast Guard crews often conduct random safety checks, and overcrowded boats are one of the things they try to spot, Swanson said.

Jim Mercante, a lawyer with Rubin, Fiorella & Friedman LLP in New York and a retired merchant marine captain, has said he doesn’t believe overcrowding was an issue because at least 10 of the passengers were children. Mercante was hired by an insurer to represent the boat’s owner, Kevin Treanor, the father of one of the children who died.

Silverton Marine Corp., the Millville, New Jersey-based boat manufacturer begun in 1969, is in a production shutdown and has dismissed its staff, according to a notice posted on its website. The company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on April 30.

“We are currently closed temporarily,” a voicemail message at Silverton’s office said.

-- With assistance from Terrence Dopp in Trenton and Esme Deprez in New York. Editors: Stephen Merelman, Ted Bunker

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