The parents of one little girl killed this summer are seeking new safety rules, following this horrific July 4th Long Island, New York boat accident that left their daughter and two other children dead.
The New York Times reports that parents of one of the children spoke this weekend at a news conference in Manhattan, urging the Coast Guard to improve its recreational boat regulations. Paul Gaines, Victoria’s (7) father was speaking for the first time since the tragedy which took place on July 4th. His wife, Lisa, spoke on NBC’s Today show last week, said the Times. Victoria is one of the three children who died in the capsize. “I can’t stand the thought of my daughter’s death being in vain,” Mr. Gaines said, visibly emotional, in Senator Charles E. Schumer’s office. Schumer arranged for the news conference.
This month’s Long Island Sound yacht capsize caused the drowning deaths of the three children. The accident, which placed much-needed focus on boating safety, involved a 34-foot Silverton, loaded with 27 passengers—many children and teens. Salvatore Aureliano, brother-in-law of the boat’s owner, Kevin Treanor, was steering the boat at the time it capsized. Treanor’s 11-year-old daughter, Harlie, and David Aureliano, 12, Aureliano’s nephew, also died, said the Times.
An investigation was initiated and theories have included weather issues, boat overcrowding, the wake of another powerboat, or a mechanical malfunction. In the days following the horrible tragedy, information on boating deaths began emerging, specifically, said the U.S. Coast Guard, that boating deaths are on the rise and mostly due to inattention, operator inexperience, and high speeds. All can lead to the key cause of boating deaths: Vessel capsize.
The Christian Science Monitor previously noted that, in many boating accidents, most people are not wearing life jackets. Although the Coast Guard said it has considered regulatory action to mandate life jacket wear, it has not taken steps to implement such a move. Of 758 boating fatalities in 2011, only 12 percent of those who died were wearing a life jacket. In this month’s accident, according to one report, there were about six life jackets for the 27 on board.
The Coast Guard has also considered mandating boat operators attend and pass boating education classes; however, it has not received Congressional authority to do so, although many other states have this requirement in place. This means that there are no mandates in place for most people, of any age, to operate a boat in New York. The Coast Guard only regulates recreational boat capacity for vessels that 20 feet or shorter, said The Times. “It boggles the mind,” said Senator Schumer. “That makes absolutely no sense.”
In a letter to Admiral Robert J. Papp Jr., the commandant of the Coast Guard, Senator Schumer urged the Coast Guard to mandate capacity limits for the larger boats, with those limits posted on board, wrote The Times. According to Senator Schumer, the Coast Guard is empowered to enact these regulations and does not need to await legislation. The senator suggested that the Coast Guard call the changes “Victoria’s Law,” and said he would consider legislation to impose penalties for those who fail to follow such mandates, said The Times.
Some boating-safety experts question how safe it was to have 27 people on a 34-foot boat. “If I was driving that boat, I am not sure where to place those people to make it a safe situation,” John Adey, president of the American Boat and Yacht Council, which sets the standards for boat-design safety, told the CS Monitor. “I don’t think the boat was designed for that kind of live load. [Twenty-seven people] would have never come into anyone’s frame of reference. Approximately 12.7 million boats are registered in the United States.