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Expert: Boat Raising Could Cost Thousands, Take Days

Private salvage could run $22,000 for boat sunk in July 4 tragedy; cost likely not covered under marine insurance.

Raising the boat sunk in a fatal July 4 boating incident could take days, cost up to $22,000, and release gas and oil into surrounding waters, according to an expert.

Long Island Marine Services owner operator William O'Connell said his company, based in Kings Park, raises about six or seven boats a year and was contacted to raise the 34-foot Silverton cabin cruiser which . The boat drifted as it sank and is now resting in 70 feet of water between between Lloyd Neck and Center Island.

Nassau Police said they for investigations, but have not yet announced a determination.

"We were contacted by a third party," O'Connell said. "We're not bonded by the state so they basically had a contractor contact us who is bonded by the State but doesn't specialize in marine salvage like we do."

O'Connell said whomever is chosen to do the job will have their hands full, estimating that the operation will require a full 24 hours of dive time and take a few days to complete.

"You need airbags, you need booms to go around the area that's going to come up -- it's basically a floating oil screen because once the boat gets raised it'll release a lot of gas and oil into the environment. It's something nobody's talking about, but that's what happens," he said.

On the bright side, O'Connell said that settling shouldn't be an issue in raising the boat. "That far out there isn't mud and silt like there is closer to shore."

Hampton Bays Marine Surveyor Michael Kurnides said most marine insurance policies do not cover the cost of salvage, but would likely cover the cost of potential lawsuits against the boat's owner.

Liability in the case of a lawsuit is usually covered up to $300,000 for an average boating insurance policy and many boat owners also have liability coverage under an umbrella policy.

"If you hit somebody with your boat and you have a $300,000 liability policy,'' Kurnides said, "and they're suing you for $750,000 -- and you had an umbrella policy -- and they won, the insurance policy would pay them with a combination of your boat liability and your umbrella liability. So you would be totally covered."

Liability coverage would not necessarily be negated in the case of negligence, Kurnides said. "If the insurance company says your claim is not valid because of your negligence, you pay for your own damages. If someone else is suing you for negligence, they would have to defend you and this is where your liability coverage could come in," he explained.

"In that case it's important to have a good lawyer."

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