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Official: Capsized boat had enough life jackets

The Kandi Won, which capsized and sank on

The Kandi Won, which capsized and sank on July 4th, is lifted out of the water at the Oyster Bay Marine Center. The accident killed three children. (July 11, 2012) Photo Credit: James Carbone

A cabin cruiser that capsized July 4, killing three children on board, appears on preliminary inspection to have been mechanically and structurally sound, a source with knowledge of the investigation said.

There also were enough life jackets on board for all the passengers, the source said this week.

The finding is the first to become known since the investigation began more than a month ago. The source said further testing on the boat is still needed. Investigators continue to interview witnesses, and are waiting for more complete information on the boat and the events leading up to the tragedy, the source said.

Lawyers for both the boat owner and the boat's driver have said that their clients had yet to be interviewed by police since the night of the tragedy.

Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice and Nassau police both declined to comment, except to say the investigation is ongoing.

Last month, investigators said initial interviews appeared to indicate there was a strong possibility that the vessel did not have the legally required number of life jackets aboard, a police spokesman said at the time.

Nassau police indicated that the main focus of their investigation was whether the boat was overcrowded when vessels were departing the area after a fireworks show had concluded.

Officials said they are trying to determine if wakes from other boats, stormy weather or mechanical failure also played a role.

The 34-foot Silverton cruiser, named Kandi Won, had 27 people onboard, at least 10 of them children, when it capsized near the mouth of Oyster Bay on the way back to Huntington after a fireworks display.

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

Sal Aureliano, David's uncle, has said he was steering the boat when it hit a large wake that he did not see.

Many marine-safety experts and other boaters have speculated that the cause of the accident was overcrowding, a charge that James Mercante, a Manhattan lawyer for the boat's owner, Kevin Treanor, has denied.

Mercante said Monday he and his client have not had access to the vessel since the accident and he cannot comment on its soundness. He said he was not surprised to hear that investigators had found that there were enough life jackets on board, since that's what Treanor, Harlie's father, said from the start.

Anthony La Pinta, who represents Sal Aureliano, declined to comment.

Tuesday, Suffolk County Legis. Steve Stern (D-Huntington) was to introduce a bill that would require all boaters to take a safety training course or face fines and even jail time for repeat offenses.

Stern said his bill would take effect one year after being passed by the legislature, if that happens, and signed by county Executive Steve Bellone, who endorses the legislation.

Stern said he hopes to have a vote by the full legislature by early September.

Wednesday, Lisa and Paul Gaines, of Huntington, Victoria's parents, are scheduled to testify before state Sen. Carl L. Marcellino (R-Syosset) and the Standing Committee on Investigations and Government Operations.

Other speakers include state parks Commissioner Rose Harvey; Sgt. John Owen, deputy commanding officer of the Nassau County Police Marine Bureau; Lawrence Postel, district commander for the U.S. Power Squadrons boating safety organization; Chris Squeri, executive director of the New York Marine Trades Association, and Jackie Martin, commodore of the Greater Huntington Council of Yacht & Boating Clubs.

The 11 a.m. hearing will be at Oyster Bay Town Hall, 54 Audrey Ave.

With Bill Bleyer

and Matthew Chayes

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