NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) – All recreational motorboats should be required to display passenger limits, a lawmaker said on Sunday, pressing the Coast Guard to take action after three children died when a boat carrying 27 people capsized on July 4.
“In the memory of the children we lost on that awful day, we can take some simple steps to educate and warn boat owners and their passengers about how many people a vessel can safely handle,” U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer said, with relatives of one of the slain children echoing his call.
1010 WINS’ Carol D’Auria reports
The children and two dozen other people were on a 34-foot-long motor boat to watch Independence Day fireworks off Long Island when the boat overturned and sank. Seven-year-old Victoria Gaines, 12-year-old David Aureliano and his cousin, 11-year-old Harlie Treanor, were trapped in the cabin and died.
Authorities are investigating whether overcrowding, a mechanical problem, weather conditions or other factors played a part in the capsizing. Safety experts have said that the boat was overcrowded, but the skipper has blamed the tragedy on a sudden wave.
The vessel, the Kandi Won, was raised on Wednesday from the bottom of Oyster Bay and taken to a marina for a preliminary inspection.
Under a 1971 federal law, engine-powered boats that are 20 feet long or smaller generally must display a plate showing their maximum passenger count and weight load. Schumer is urging the same for larger boats.
“It doesn’t make much sense that we require capacity limits be posted for mostly everything from ballrooms to classrooms — and boats under 20 feet in size — but not recreational vessels over 20 feet,” he said in a release.
A message left for the Coast Guard wasn’t immediately returned.
Paul Gaines, Victoria’s father, said that the proposal “would be a huge step forward.”
“While we explore what exactly went wrong during this trip, it’s vital that we do everything possible to ensure that no family ever has to experience the grief that we are currently going through,” he said.
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