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Preliminary Report Indicates Boat May Have Been Top Heavy In Oyster Bay Tragedy

OYSTER BAY, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- There was a new twist Wednesday in the boat accident on Oyster Bay that killed three children.

Preliminary findings revealed troubling actions by the boat's owner and pilot, but it's unlikely they will result in criminal charges.

Emotion poured from the parents of Victoria Gaines. Her mother, Lisa, was aboard the Kandi Won the night when her 7-year-old daughter was trapped in the cabin and drowned along with two other Long Island children.

WCBS 880's Mike Xirinachs reports


The Gaines family and others testified at a state boating safety hearing and are pushing for immediate changes.

"Numerous mistakes were made that night. This could have and should have been prevented," said Michael Della, the Gaines family attorney.

CBS 2's Jennifer McLogan has learned that the Kandi Won may have been top heavy -- eight people were perched up on the flying bridge when it went over.

A firm has been hired to recreate the capsizing. Although the 34-foot Silverton Cruiser it appeared to be structurally sound, there may have been a "design flaw," the preliminary report suggested.

1010 WINS' Carol D'Auria reports


At least 27 life jackets -- one for each of the 10 children and 17 adults  -- were recovered. Now investigators are trying to determine if all were stowed on the Kandi Won, or if some were tossed from other nearby vessels.

Charges of criminally negligent homicide due to overcrowding appear unlikely given that it would be difficult to prove intentional, substantial or unjustifiable risk on the part of the owner and pilot, who CBS 2 learned took 20 adults out on the Kandi Won the week prior to the sinking.

WCBS 880's Sophia Hall: There Was Sadness At The Hearing In Oyster Bay


Police have not yet even interviewed the boat owner and pilot. If they are reluctant, they could be compelled to testify before a grand jury.

In the meantime, families of victims killed in water crashes are pushing for mandatory occupancy and weight restrictions, safety courses, and boat traffic control.

Fisherman Christopher Mannino was killed this summer on the Great South Bay by a speeding boater.

"My kids are without a father, I am without my husband," the victim's wife, Michelle Mannino, said. "People are able to operate these machines, heavier than cars, more dangerous and there are no speed limits!"

Officials said they will next determine if wake from other boats, stormy weather, or mechanical failure also played a role.
As boat safety hearings are underway, both Nassau police and the District Attorney said the investigation into the Kandi Won tragedy continues.


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