No criminal charges in Silverton capsize

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The Nassau County district attorney’s office ruled out criminal charges in the Oyster Bay boating accident on the Fourth of July that killed three children.

John Byrne, a spokesman for Nassau District Attorney Kathleen Rice, told Newsday that a county police investigation uncovered a “unique combination of circumstances” that led to the capsizing of the 34-foot cabin cruiser.

A report on the accident and recommendations will be issued later, Byrne said Thursday.

Although no evidence of criminal wrongdoing was found, the investigation uncovered “gaping holes in the maritime regulatory system and contributory design flaws in the vessel,” Byrne told the paper. He declined to elaborate.

Preliminary findings had the vessel meeting basic safety standards, including the number of life jackets, but investigators have since determined that the vessel’s design made it unstable in certain conditions, a source familiar with the probe told the newspaper Thursday.

The 1984 Silverton cruiser, Kandi Won, had 27 people onboard, at least 10 of them children, when it capsized and sank about 10 p.m. near the mouth of Oyster Bay. The boat was heading back to Huntington after a fireworks display.

The operator of the boat, Sal Aureliano, said the vessel was struck by a large wake that he couldn’t see in the dark.

Aureliano said last summer that he saw lightning shortly before the accident, but the National Weather Service said a thunderstorm moved through the area later that night and winds never exceeded 10 to 15 mph.

Three children trapped in the cabin when the boat capsized died: cousins David Aureliano, 12, and Harlie Treanor, 11; and family friend Victoria Gaines, 7.

Victoria’s father, Paul Gaines of Huntington, said he hopes the final report sheds more light on the accident.

“There were dangerous conditions on the water that night, and I’m committed to finding out where the responsibilities lie,” he told the paper. “No matter what the report says, it is clear that boating safety laws, rules and regulations need to be examined and some changed.”

Gaines said he has been working with federal and state officials to draft legislation that improves maritime safety.

The boat’s owner, Kevin Treanor of Huntington, who lost his daughter in the accident, was relieved to hear that no charges will be filed, according to his attorney, James Mercante of Manhattan.

Mercante has insisted that Kandi Won was not dangerously overloaded, pinning the cause of the tragedy on the surprise wake.

Aureliano’s attorney, Anthony La Pinta, said he anticipates civil allegations.


17 comments on “No criminal charges in Silverton capsize

  1. Captain Gort

    In a related judgement, no criminal blame was affixed on bankers or
    Wall Street for the capsizing of America in 2008…. They “just didn’t see
    that large wake coming”. It’s just a sign of our times.

  2. john ennis

    The skipper of a vessel is responsible for the safety of its passengers. That is the bottom line and one the D.A apparently ignored.

  3. Ed Wiser

    27 people on a 34-foot boat and the owner and his attorney insist it was not dangerously overloaded? Res ipsa loquitar, counselor.

  4. enginecom

    So Silverton and their parent company had better hold onto their checkbook. Now we can be assured that any product built can be deemed unsafe within its service life. During July 4th have been on boats loaded to the gills similar to the Silverton and alway the people were dispersed, speed slow and it was out of any area where wakes could be encountered. It is tragic but the after effects will be very expensive for the boat manufacturer and their insurer.

  5. J Hedley

    “unique combination of circumstances”

    If circumstances included a car, a gun, a knife, poison or a corporate entity you can be sure charges would have been filed and filed often. Because it’s water, otherwise rational and orthodox people become totally befuddled. Clearly the prosecution was less interested in seeking justice and more afraid of what they didn’t understand. Once again, because of prosecutorial cowardice, I’m forced to root for the plaintiff’s bar- hopefully the owner and master will get sued into the stone age.

    The most unfortunate thing is the lesson learned and broadcast clear and wide to LI boaters: if you’re going to be an irresponsible and negligent, do so in Nassau county.

  6. Fred B.

    “Design flaws in the vessel” ? Really? According to whom? The mid 80’s vintage 34′ Silvertons like this boat have long been recognized as one of, if not the most popular flybridge-style boat of its size ever manufacturered. There have been and still are hundreds and hundreds of them in use with no “capsizing” issues such as what happened in this case. Now, because some careless idiot allows 27 people to pile all over his boat and it tips over, suddenly there are “design flaws” that contributed to this accident? Get real! Unbelievable!!!

  7. Quick2Judge

    Captain Sal is no more responsible for a design flaw than driver Sally is when her well maintained car’s accelerator gets stuck.

    Let’s see that detailed report before we question the folks who had facts at hand, not speculation, to come to their conclusions.

  8. bill gardella

    Mercante has insisted that Kandi Won was not dangerously overloaded, pinning the cause of the tragedy on the surprise wake.

    Above sentence must be a horrible attempt at humor.
    Who the hell’s butt is being protected here?


  9. ecom

    first rule of boating safety: let common sense prevail… in this case there was a clear violation of ther first rule…

  10. dancerscap

    “Mercante has insisted that Kandi Won was not overloaded…”
    Paul Gaines told the paper… “it is clear that boating laws, rules and regulations need to be examined and some changed”. Try as you might you can’t fix stupid.

  11. Neil Pinkman

    As all captains know, you are responsible for your own wake. If the captain who created that wake was ever identified it would be and interesting discussion on responsibility. Having owned the identical boat, I NEVER would have that many passengers on board. Especially in an environment that you know will create many difficult situations. As captain, you also have to make sure there are no surprises. There are many errors made in this case.

  12. Big Bill

    Will just repeat my post from right after the trajedy: “If Mr. Mercante does not believe the boat was overloaded, I invite him to gather 26 additional lawyers and charter that model vessel for the weekend.”

    The world might end up a better place!!

  13. cdrcompass

    What does the manufacturer’s capacity plate say? Any excess is obviously overloaded. My 40 Ft cruiser says 12. I might go a few more if there were kids and fewer adults. You can bet they would all have life jackets handy. Time for a better prosecutor.

  14. Capt. Tommy P.

    The captain of the vessel and every adult is at fault. Too many people on the vessel and no common sense. Its a sad situation and it did not need to happen. Three young lives have been lost, dont forget it. The D.A. needs to take a different position on the legal side of this accident because he is wrong. Someone needs to go to jail!

  15. Captdavid (USCG Licensed Captain)

    It would be interesting to know exactly where the passengers were located at the moment the vessel capsized. How many were on the bridge for a “better view? How many were up front, standing or sitting with their legs hanging over the side? These issues could dramatically alter the stbility of any boat this size. I think the authorities need to take another look at this one. I can not imagine how any captain would allow that many people on any that size boat under any circumstances. This is shocking.

  16. Capt. Philip Topps, AMS

    A bit dismayed, first, at the decision, and secondly, at some of the inane remarks, such as by quick2judge (at least you got your HANDLE right)
    I guess that one didn’t bother to read the excellent appraisal done of the vessel design by Eric Sorensen, and Dave Gerr (REAL experts, by the way) who found no such instability or design flaws. I, too, as one other poster, owned a similar 34 Silverton, and used it in all manner of conditions, but never, NEVER would I put 27 People aboard for any reason, other than perhaps in an emergency, evacuation SAR type of event.
    “Captain” Sal? I don’t THINK so.
    BTW, boats of this size do NOT require capacity plates. Source: 33 CFR Part 183 Subpart B, Sec 183.21 “This subpart applies to monohull boats less than 20 ft (6.15m) in length, except sailboats, canoes, kayaks, and inflatable boats”

  17. TKTK

    Boating require Common Sense, This captain had none, this is basic Pendulum affect science, add water to the equation and your going over. When will the human species take responsibilty for there own mistakes?????? Always an excuse……

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