A statue in a town park garden dedicated to Oyster Bay boating victim Victoria Gaines was damaged this week.
Victoria's uncle and aunt, Mike and Dana Block of Patchogue, noticed the damage when they visited the garden Thursday -- the first anniversary of their young niece's death -- after spending about an hour at her grave nearby.
The statue of a little girl was installed in Huntington's Heckscher Park on Tuesday. The following day, four butterflies -- Victoria's favorite -- were attached. But by Thursday the butterfly affixed to the girl's hand was gone, Mike Block said.
"It is disgusting . . . that no one can leave anything alone regardless what it is for," Block said Friday, sitting in the garden.
Two days shy of her 8th birthday, Victoria Gaines of Huntington Station was trapped in the cabin of a capsized boat in Oyster Bay after a July Fourth fireworks display last year. David Aureliano, 12, and Harlie Treanor, 11, daughter of the boat's owner, also were trapped and died.
The 34-foot cabin cruiser had 27 people onboard, 15 of them children. Overloading was the primary cause of the boating accident, an investigation by the Nassau County district attorney's office found this week.
Block said he had to tell his sister, Victoria's mother, Lisa Gaines, about the damage on Thursday, because she was out of town. "Yesterday was not a good day to be telling her anything like that," he said.
Suffolk County Police and Town of Huntington officials were notified, and Friday officers and town employees met Mike Block at the garden.
While there, one of the town employees was told that the town's public safety office had the missing butterfly, which was found by a town worker at the foot of the statue Wednesday night and was returned Friday.
"It is a relief finding it," Block said.
"We are unaware of the circumstances that caused this, whether it was intentional or accidental," town spokesman A.J. Carter said. "We are aware of the anguish that this may be causing the Gaines family and we will work with them, helping getting the statue repaired."
Suffolk police said they are investigating the incident.