A 14-year-year-old boy was killed Sunday in Peconic Bay when his Jet Ski crashed into the anchor chain of his family's nearby boat, officials said.
Dominic Trionfo of Middle Island had recently received his state boating license, and was driving a personal watercraft for the first time, said his grandfather, John Martinelli, 62.
"He was a wonderful kid. He just made a mistake -- he got too close to the front of the boat," said Martinelli, also of Middle Island. "He wasn't going that fast."
More than a half-dozen family members had been spending the day on Martinelli's boat in Peconic Bay, near Mattituck. They'd just finished lunch at the marina, and Dominic was eager to put his license to use.
Out of an abundance of caution, the family wouldn't let the boy drive the Jet Ski out of the marina, Martinelli said. Dominic's 18-year-old brother did that for him.
"You take all the precautions you can," the grandfather said by phone Sunday night. "You don't understand. One minute he's there and next, they're taking him away."
Southold police Sunday evening said Dominic was operating the Jet Ski "in close proximity" to the family's boat when he struck its anchor chain. After the 1:55 p.m. accident, Dominic was rushed to shore and treated by the Mattituck Fire Department rescue team, police said. He was pronounced dead at Peconic Bay Medical Center.
Last night, Martinelli said, about 30 people had congregated at his home to mourn the "much loved" teen. He expected a similar outpouring Monday at Longwood High School, where Dominic was a freshman.
One of four children, Dominic had been a lineman for the school's junior varsity football team, and hoped to move up to the varsity squad next year.
The avid Mets fan also played sax in the school band, kept a 90 average and umpired in local baseball leagues.
But boating is something Dominic's family has been doing since he was born, Martinelli said. Dominic had been a passenger on his grandfather's Jet Ski. New York increased the minimum age in 2005 for operating a personal watercraft to 14. Before, children as young as 10 could legally do so.
Last fall, when Dominic turned 14, an uncle helped the boy take New York's safe boating courses and he secured a license to operate a personal watercraft on his own.
"Today was the day he was waiting for," Martinelli said.