Authorities used air bags Wednesday to raise the 34-foot boat that sank nearly 70 feet below the surface of Oyster Bay on July Fourth and will now move to the next phase of their investigation into what caused the vessel to capsize, killing three children.
The Kandi Won, a cabin cruiser, listed starboard while being towed to shore by a Nassau County police Marine Bureau boat a week to the day after the tragedy. Representatives for the family, who laid the victims to rest this week, denied fault but police are still trying to determine whether human error, mechanical failure, Mother Nature or some combination thereof are to blame.
“If there is any evidentiary value to this boat we would like to know about it,” Det. Lt. John Azzata, head of the Homicide Squad, told reporters Tuesday.
After being brought to a marina in Oyster Bay, the boat was to be taken to Marine Bureau headquarters in Bay Park for examination.
“It was a long, tedious process, but it went exactly as planned,” Det. Vincent Garcia, a police spokesman, told reporters after the operation was completed. He said one of the six air bags slipped off and had to be reattached while the boat was being raised.
A dive team made up of FBI agents and Nassau police officers were stifled for two days by mud that caused low visibility at the bay bottom in earlier attempts to raise the boat.
A funeral was held Monday for 12-year-old David Aureliano of Kings Park. On Tuesday, services were held for Harlie Treanor, 11, of Huntington Station, and family friend, 8-year-old Victoria Gaines of Huntington.
All three were trapped in the boat’s cabin when it sank.
Sal Aureliano, David’s uncle, told reporters he was at the helm when a wave hit the boat after the family watched a fireworks show in Cold Spring Harbor, where hundreds of boats had gathered.
An attorney representing Kevin Treanor, Harlie’s father and the boat’s owner, said the boat was not over crowded and had enough life jackets for all 27 people—17 adults and 10 children—as required by New York State law.
“The people on the boat were evenly distributed,” said James Mercante, a maritime lawyer from Manhattan-based Rubin, Fiorella & Friedman LLP. “He is a careful, prudent owner.”
Police have said they ruled out alcohol as a factor. A thunderstorm had moved through the area at around the time of the incident.
Suffolk County Legis. Steven Stern (D-Huntington) visited the scene Wednesday and told reporters he plans to propose the Suffolk Safer Waterway Act to require boaters who enter county waters to have a taken a boater safety course.
“We know it will not prevent every accident, but I strongly believe that this safety training will make it absolutely safer,” he said.