It was a reality check in an otherwise festive parade Saturday. Tucked between the Homecoming class floats featuring super heroes and Cub Scouts marching in uniform up New York Avenue in Huntington were a group children holding a banner that read: “In Memory of Victoria.”
Victoria Gaines would have been an 8-year-old third grader at Washington Primary School. But she drowned late July 4 along with two other children when the boat they were in capsized in turbulent waters off Oyster Bay.
“I miss her so much at times it is simply hard to breathe,’’ said mother Lisa Gaines, 45, who marched in the parade at the request of the PTA. “Still doesn't seem real. Her Nana said it best: ‘She was the spice of our family, very special, very loved, very missed.’”
Those tragic deaths have helped shape renewed debate around boater safety in New York and nationwide in the months since. The Gaines family has met with 15 legislators, which resulted in three sets of guidelines for water safety in the proposed “Victoria’s Law.”
- Federal law mandating capacity limits for all personal / recreational watercraft.
- All boaters to be required to complete a boating safety course and obtain certificate or license or risk penalties and fines.
- Increased water security with first responders, divers and emergency teams ready to respond on waterways during the height of the boating season.
Let Patch save you time. Get great local stories like this delivered right to your inbox or smartphone everyday with our free newsletter. Simple, fast sign-up here.
Any one of these guidelines may have changed the dynamic on the night of the deadly sinking. But instead of enjoying the September weekend with her daughter, Lisa Gaines instead wore her visage on a T-shirt and marched in her memory.
Victoria's father, Paul, watched the parade from a distance as it moved past his daughter's gravesite.
“I was blessed to be her mother for almost eight years,” said Gaines, a divorced mom with a 12-year-old son. “I will do anything and everything I can to keep her memory alive, for the family, for her friends and in her community.”
One girl's memory – and legacy – are still very much alive.
Follow Huntington Patch on Facebook