A year after three children died when the boat they were aboard capsized and sank in Oyster Bay Harbor following a family Fourth of July fireworks outing, the push for new boating laws continues.
An investigative report released Wednesday found that overcrowding and a wave that hit at the worst possible angle caused the vessel to tip over. The report and the parents of the victims are calling for more stringent New York State boat safety legislation than a recently passed law that requires boaters under 18 receive boater safety education.
“I just hope that Victoria’s memory can serve as a reminder to all boaters to be more cautious, and remember that there are many lives at stake,” Paul Gaines, father of an 8-year-old girl who was one of the three children lost, said through his lawyer.
Victoria Gaines, 11-year-old Harley Treanor and his 12-year-old cousin, David Aureliano, drowned when they were trapped in the cabin as the Kandi Won—which had 27 people aboard—sank 65 feet to the bottom of the Long Island Sound.
Nassau County prosecutors announced earlier this year that there would be no criminal charges filed in the case. Neither Sal Aureliano, the operator of the Kandi Won, nor the vessel’s owner, Kevin Treanor, showed signs of impairment
The report urges lawmakers to adopt legislation requiring vessels to capacity limits regardless of size, require boats get regular equipment inspections and further study how to improve boating regulations.
“It doesn’t make sense that we require capacity limits be posted for everything from ballrooms to classrooms, but not recreational vessels over 20 feet,” U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) said last July after he a proposed boat capacity bill that has not yet been voted out of committee.
Suffolk County last fall passed a law that goes in effect in November requiring vessel operators attend boating safety classes and New York State last month passed a law that goes into effect next May requiring safety classes for boaters born on or after May 1, 1996.
Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice’s report on the Kandi Won called the state law “a good first step,” but called for Albany to go further. “Lawmakers should work toward endeavor to include all boaters and should amend the provisions relating to children.”
“Victoria’s Law,” a bill in the state legislature named for Victoria Gaines, would mandate boater safety course completion for all operators and visible weight capacity limits for all recreational watercraft.
“This tragedy should be a wake up call to all legislators to enact and enforce Victoria’s Law for stricter boating safety regulations,” said Paul Gaines, who’s been lobbying for the bill with his wife, Lisa, over the past year.
The legislation would also require boat traffic controllers and first responders to be present at large boating events, such as the fireworks show. The Dolan family of Cablevision fame that held the fireworks show preceding the tragedy cancelled this year’s display.
An electronic petition in favor of Victoria’s Law and more information on the legislation and fundraising is available at www.victoriagainesmemorial.com.