Three children died when a boat carrying more than two dozen people capsized late Wednesday night after a fireworks show near Oyster Bay.
Nassau County Detective Lt. John Azzata said Thursday that a boy and two girls, ages 12, 11 and 8, died after the 34-foot Silverton cabin cruiser began sinking about 10 p.m.
Others on the boat were rescued by people from the more than 100 boats nearby and emergency personnel.
“Divers had to get in, recover the bodies and get out safely,” Azzata said of the dramatic efforts as the boat, which had sunk in about 21 feet of water, drifted into waters 65 or 70 feet deep. “ The boat is sinking and drifting the whole time,” he said.
The three children were identified as David Aureliano 12, , 11, and Victoria Gaines 8. They were found inside the cabin.
"The boat could have sunk for many reasons," Azzata said. There were reports that a wake from another boat may have capsized the craft or that overcrowding could have been a factor. There were 27 people onboard.
Azzata said the boat had recently been purchased but did not have more information. Azzata, chief of the homicide squad, said the boat sank between Lloyd Neck and Centre Island.
Nassau Police public information officer Vincent Garcia said the department did not have the ability to raise the boat but that the Coast Guard or other agency would have to bring it to the surface and haul it to Bay Park for examination.
The accident occurred a couple of hundred feet from the opening to the Long Island Sound, near the entrance to Oyster Bay and the harbor.
Emergency personnel included Town of Oyster Bay bay constables, New York Police Department scuba divers, Suffolk County Police Department scuba divers, Atlantic Steamer Volunteer Fire Department and the Coast Guard.
The Coast Guard Public Affairs Office said that two 25-foot rescue boats were sent out to Oyster Bay Harbor after they received the call at 11 p.m. from a Good Samaritan.
The boat was berthed at the Seawanhaka Corinthian Yacht Club on Centre Island, not far from the site of the capsizing on the northern shore of Oyster Bay.
In a statement, Commodore William R. Demslow, Jr., the club's president, issued a statement:
"Any boating accident that results in injury or loss of life is a tragedy. The Sewanhaka Corinthian Yacht Club has always stood ready to help boaters in distress especially in events as these. Our thoughts and prayers go out to those who suffered, especially for the loss of the children."
The yacht club would provide no further information, including who on the doomed vessel had been a member of their club.
Azzata made a point of noting that all permits were in order for the fireworks show, sponsored by Cablevision chairman Charles Dolan, who annually puts on an Independence Day show at his home in Cove Neck.
Along the Oyster Bay waterfront Thursday afternoon there was unofficial speculation to official silence.
Many beach goers and even lifeguards at Theodore Roosevelt Park, overlooking Oyster Bay's west harbor, had heard of the previous evening's tragedy and trying to come to grips with why so many people were aboard a vessel that size. None said they had any direct knowledge of the event. Television news crews were preparing for remote reports from the waterfront; News trucks lined the parking lots.
There were no firefighters at the Atlantic Steamers Marine Division, which is based at the boat launch just west of Roosevelt Park. The Marine Division was one of the rescue teams involved in the operation.
Although bay constables employed by the Town of Oyster Bay were involved in the search and rescue efforts, the town declined to comment on the tragedy or their role in the operation. Spokeswoman Phyllis Barry said the town was referring all questions to the Nassau County Police and would have no further comment.
Harlie was a Huntington Station resident, and Victoria was scheduled to start third grade at a Washington school in the fall.