While local families are coping with a tour boat tragedy that left 20 people from Michigan dead, others are beginning to ask questions about what caused the vessel to capsize, Local 4 reported.
Mark Rosenker, of the National Transportation Safety Board, and Representative John E. Sweeney (R - NY), held a press conference on Monday afternoon to commend the efforts of rescuers and offer their condolences to the families of the victims.
Rosenker said the NTSB will be participating in an investigation by local and federal authorities to determine what caused the boat to capsize. Rosenker said authorities will inspect the boat before recovering it from the water. The boat will then be surfaced and towed to a secure location for further inspection, he said.
Fourteen members of the group from Michigan, the Trenton Travelers, left from Trenton's Parks and Recreation Department last Tuesday for a weeklong autumn colors trip. They were expected to return this Tuesday after visiting New York, Vermont and New Hampshire, Local 4 reported.
Earl Hawley, 76, and his wife, Anne Mary Hawley, were onboard The Ethan Allen tour boat when it capsized on Lake George in upstate New York. Earl Hawley died, but his wife survived, the station reported. Francis Wrock, 87, and his 76-year-old companion, Joyce Chatmen, were also on the boat. Both were killed in the incident.
The names of the remaining Michigan victims were not released, Local 4 reported. Sweeney said all but one victim's family has been contacted by authorities.
Wrock's son, Robert, said his father had been on so many trips in recent years that "he never could remember where he went." Robert Wrock believes the tour boat had too many passengers on it when it capsized.
"They should have never been on the boat under the circumstances that they were," he said.
Authorities believe the wake from another vessel caused the 40-foot tour boat to sink with 47 passengers onboard. The boat quickly overturned and nobody had time to put on a life preserver, Local 4 reported.
"They were turning left ... There must have been too much weight on the left side of the boat when the wake hit it just started going over too much," said Lake George resident Rick Sause.
Adult boat passengers are not required to wear life preservers in New York, but boats must carry at least one life jacket per person, Local 4 reported. The boat had a licensed capacity of 50 people, according to the station's reports.
Twenty-seven people survived, including the boat's captain, Local 4 reported. Seven of the survivors remain hospitalized.
The mayor of Trenton is working with Shoreline Tours to arrange to have survivors brought back to Michigan, the station reported.
Anyone who would like to check on friends or family members who may have been aboard the tour boat should contact the Warren County Sheriff's Department at (518) 743-2500 or Glen Falls Hospital at (518) 926-1000.
- October 3, 2005: 20 Michigan Passengers Killed In Boat Accident
- October 2, 2005: Trenton Senior Citizens Among Dead In Boat Accident