A tour boat carrying 49 people, many of them senior citizens, capsized on Sunday on Lake George, New York, local authorities said. Twenty-one people died.
“We believe they hit the wake of one of the larger boats,” said Warren County Sheriff Larry Cleveland in a televised news conference from the scene. He said an investigation was under way. He told the Associated Press the group on the boat was from Canada.
Frank Sause, a local eyewitness interviewed by Cable News Network, said he helped dock a boat carrying the boat's captain, who should aid the probe, reports Bloomberg.
According to Newsday, police are still investigating the deadly accident, but witnesses said they saw a wave from a larger steam boat hit the Ethan Allen. Officials said that had yet to be confirmed. The captain of the ship, Richard Paris, was being interviewed last night at the boat's base in the village of Lake George, a tourist town 50 miles north of Albany.
Officials are treating the incident, which happened off of Cramer Point, about two miles north of the village, as a criminal investigation until it is ruled otherwise, Warren County Sheriff Larry Cleveland said last night.
The accident apparently happened so fast that none of the passengers was able to put on a life jacket, Cleveland said. Some were trapped within the boat, but most were cast into the water, police said.
The lake, a popular tourist destination, is busy with boaters through Columbus Day, especially on the weekends.
Nearby residents and other boaters helped police and rescue workers pull people out of the water, and by 5 p.m. all were accounted for. Bodies were laid along the shore and the area was blocked by police with tarps.
Dorothy Warren, 73, who lives across a small road from the lake, said she brought blankets, towels, water and chairs to the shocked seniors.
"One woman ... had lost her mother who she had taken on this cruise to celebrate her 80th birthday," Warren said last night. "She said, 'My mother's dead. They haven't found her.'"
Photo: the AP