NEW YORK (Reuters) - Police said they would raise a yacht from the waters off New York’s Long Island on Tuesday to figure out why it capsized during a July 4th fireworks viewing cruise, killing three children.
For nearly a week, investigators have been trying to determine what caused the 34-foot (10.4-metre) boat carrying 27 friends and family to sink off Oyster Bay, where it remains in approximately 60 feet of water.
Plans to recover the vessel were announced by Nassau County Police on Monday, amid separate funerals for the three children whose bodies were found in the cabin of the submerged boat.
Police identified the victims as David Aureliano, 12, Harley Treanor, 11, and Victoria Gaines, 8. Aureliano and Treanor were believed to be cousins and Gaines a family friend, authorities said.
Video and sonar samples of the boat were being taken by police divers on Monday, and efforts to raise the vessel would begin on Tuesday, said Police Chief Steven Skrynecki.
“Right now the focus is to gain as much information as possible,” he said.
Skrynecki declined to comment further on the investigation in which weather and overcrowding have been considered possible causes of the sinking.
There was a strong thunderstorm in the area at about the time of the sinking.
Also under investigation is whether the 1984 Silverton cabin cruiser was equipped with 27 life preservers for all onboard, as required by law. Children under age 12 are required to wear a life jacket while on board, except while in the cabin.
Neither the boat owner nor a second operator was suspected of driving while intoxicated, police said. They have been cooperative up to this point in the investigation, Skrynecki said.
Once all the evidence had been assessed, police will work with the district attorney’s office to determine whether any criminal charges will be filed.
Reporting by Lily Kuo; Editing by Cynthia Osterman