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Family of Girl Killed in Boating Accident Seeks Enhanced Regulations

Coast Guard responds to requests by father of Victoria Gaines, Sen. Charles Schumer to change rules.

The parents of a Huntington girl are calling on the Coast Guard to require upgraded capacity limits and posting requirements for recreational boats.

At a press conference July 15, Paul Gaines, the , 7, of Huntington, urged that recreational boat limits be visibly posted on board vessels to warn operators and passengers of total capacities and weight load.

“While we explore what exactly went wrong during this trip, it is vital we do everything possible to ensure that no family ever has to experience the grief that we are currently going through,” said Gaines, in the Manhattan office of Sen. Charles Schumer. “Posting capacity limits on boats over 20 feet would be a huge step forward." 

Three children died when a 34-foot Silverton cabin cruiser carrying more than two dozen people capsized after a fireworks show near Oyster Bay. 

"Like all New Yorkers, I was heartbroken when I heard of the tragedy," said Schumer to Patch on Wednesday. "The Gaines family reached out to my office with a simple but powerful idea to make sure all boats post clear capacity limits to help prevent similar tragedies in the future, and I’m urging the Coast Guard to implement this policy as quickly as possible."

A Coast Guard official in Washington, D.C., told Patch they share in the senator's concern for the safety of the recreational boating community.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of the three children who perished in this tragic accident," said Cmdr. Chris O'Neil, chief of media relations with the Coast Guard. "We are dedicated to reducing recreational boating related injuries and fatalities through boater education and effective regulations."

Authority to promulgate regulations for the promotion of safety of life is the responsibility of the Coast Guard, according to Schumer, D-N.Y.

In a letter to Adm. Bob Papp, the Commandant of the Coast Guard, Schumer argued that a visibly displayed plaque could help dissuade boat owners or passengers from overcrowding a vessel. The lawmaker pushed for regulations to require that limits be posted visibly next to the steering console or the stern of boat, and in full view of boarding passengers. 

“It doesn’t make much sense that we require capacity limits be posted for most everything from ballrooms to classrooms, and boats under 20 feet in size, but not recreational vessels over 20 feet,” Schumer said.

Piloted by Salvatore Aureliano, the boat capsized with 27 people aboard, including 10 children and the boat's owner, Kevin Treanor, Aureliano's brother-in-law.

Twelve-year-old , a nephew of Mr. Aureliano, and , 11, the daughter of Mr. Treanor, also died in the accident after being trapped inside the boat as it sank.

In an interview on NBC's "Today" show last week, Lisa Gaines, the mother of Victoria Gaines, said there was no warning before the accident.

A lawyer representing Treanor said July 6 that the combined wakes of passing boats leaving the fireworks display could have been big enough to topple the boat even if it had been carrying a lighter load, according to a New York Times report.

Last week, the boat was raised to the surface and transported to a facility in Woodmere where an investigation by the FBI and Nassau Police Department examining the reasons for the vessel’s capsizing is ongoing. No criminal charges have been filed.

Linda Otta August 02, 2012 at 04:15 PM
We don't need more laws and regulations. There is not an epidemic of this happening. Personal responsibility. Hold the driver accountable and be done with it. Mrs Gaines profession has nothing to do with this. My heart goes out to her and her family but enough with regulating everyone else when 1 tragedy happens.
douglas stretton August 02, 2012 at 04:59 PM
I agree with your comment regarding Mrs Gaines profession and my heart goes out as well. But I think the general public and (most boaters) will disagree that more laws and regulations are not needed. A little research into the recent past will reveal that regulations are needed. If the "driver" (as you refer to him) was in fact driving a car he would be accountable and it would be done. We have laws in place for that. But he was the captain of the boat where no license was required to operate it...no test, no classes required. Let's see what the upcoming public hearings reveal...to which everyone is invited to voice their opinion. Hope to see you there.
Clifford Sondock August 23, 2012 at 12:01 AM
Public hearings and Government regulation is not the course toward greater safety but less Liberty. We all, individually, must take responsiblility for ourselves and our actions. A parent should not assume that a licensed captain is capable of safely operating a vessel just on the premise that the captain is licensed by Government. We suffer the consequences in most every risk we take from a false sense of security that Government regulation will protect our wealth and lives. Individual honor and integrity have little value today because Government regulation is perceived to take their place. The truth is that Government regulation is killing America, the Land of the Free.
douglas stretton August 23, 2012 at 05:23 PM
I kinda agree with you Cliff, government and regulations have taken away and restricted the Liberty of us to a large extent. The problem, as I see it..is that most people don't have common sense and can't or refuse regulate themselves. Like why a cell phone law had to be put in place while driving...which people don't follow anyway. It's like the red light camera's that are going up everywhere...it's gone way beyond George Orwell's 1984. How often is someone arrested who's license was suspended 15 times or doesn't have a license in the first place. Noboby can bring back the lives of the children that were lost. But if something isn't done to change the boating regulations...in some attempt to make things safer in the future...what will all of us say when or if this happens again? I don't think people will just throw their arms up in the air and say...there was nothing that we could have done. I think new regulations will have merit. Remember, regulations that save lives go un-reported...because an accident Didn't happen.
Clifford Sondock August 28, 2012 at 02:22 AM
Parents need to be responsible for their children. A parent should maintain a healthy distrust for Government and boat captains. The boat captain should be responsible for his mistake and parents need to make sure that they trust the captain's character and proficiency. No amount of regulation can replace a healthy amount of skepticism and the risk of losing the trust of the People. Regulations kill lives as people behave with a false sense of security. The FDA regulates the pharmaceutical industry but likely kills thousands more from the drugs that could save lives that are delayed from the market due to regulation. As Ben Franklin said "those that would give up Liberty for security deserve neither."

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