FBI divers check sunken vessel where 3 kids died
Oyster Bay, N.Y. - A team of FBI divers was brought in Monday to assist Long Island police officials investigating the July Fourth capsizing of a yacht that sank, killing three children.
Nassau County Police Chief Steven Skrynecki said the divers were using sonar and video equipment to assess the site. He said officials planned to discuss a strategy for raising the vessel from its location approximately 60 feet below the surface of Oyster Bay, N.Y.
Officials said they expected the boat to be retrieved today.
The 34-foot Kandi Won had 27 people aboard -10 children and 17 adults - when it capsized following an Independence Day fireworks display. Killed were David Aureliano, 12, his cousin, Harley Treanor, 11, and a family friend, Victoria Gaines, who would have turned 8 on July 6. No serious injuries were reported by the 24 passengers who were rescued from the water, mostly by fellow boaters.
A funeral was held Monday for Aureliano and services were scheduled for today for the two girls.
"The examination of that vessel is a significant aspect of the investigation," Skrynecki said. "The FBI is very well-equipped to survey that site."
Skrynecki said investigators were still trying to determine whether there were enough life jackets on the yacht. Every passenger was required to have a life jacket, although the children were not required to be wearing them while inside the vessel's cabin, where the three bodies were recovered.
Skrynecki noted Monday that authorities may never be able to learn the exact number of life jackets, because some may have floated away.
Boating experts have suggested the vessel was too full and was bound to capsize, but Skrynecki said Monday that aspect of the investigation remained under review. Detective John Azzata, chief of the homicide squad, said it was too early to determine if there was probable cause to file criminal charges in the case. An assistant district attorney attended Monday's press briefing; a spokesman said the DA's office is monitoring the investigation and declined to comment.
The yacht's owner, Kevin Treanor, who is related to some of the victims, bought it in April 2011, boating records show. James Mercante, an insurance company lawyer representing Treanor, said last week investigators should look into whether a mechanical malfunction caused the vessel to capsize.
"Thirty-four-foot boats shouldn't roll over, with or without people on it," he said.
Mercante also said there were enough life jackets on board for all the passengers and then some.
The National Weather Service said a thunderstorm moved through the area about 20 minutes after the first 911 call and winds never exceeded 10 to 15 mph.
The boat's skipper, Sal Aureliano, has said in a television interview that he saw two lightning bolts and then a wave suddenly hit the yacht off Oyster Bay, on the north shore of Long Island.
"It turned the boat around," he said. "It just turned the boat. I didn't see it. It was dark. I didn't see it."
The Silverton yacht was built in 1984. The manufacturer has since gone out of business. Safety experts said most boats have manufacturer's plates that list capacity by number of adults and by total weight. So, theoretically, a boat could safely handle more passengers if some were children.
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