Three children died and 24 people were rescued after a yacht bringing passengers out to view a Fourth of July fireworks display capsized in the waters off Long Island, N.Y.
The boat capsized late Wednesday night as a result of weather and a wake from another vessel on the water, Nassau County Police Insp. Kenneth Lack said. The 24 passengers were rescued from the Long Island Sound after the boat capsized around 11 p.m. in the vicinity of Oyster Bay.
The first person to be found dead in the water was discovered shortly after the distress call came in. Two others were located in the vessel hours after it sank by divers, Lack said early this morning. The identities and ages of the victims have not been released.
"It was a lot of people in the water," Lack said. "It was a tremendous response by multiple agencies. Most of the people were taken into other crafts very quickly. Tragically, three people did not make it out of the Silverton vessel."
Two 25-foot rescue boat crews from Coast Guard Station Eaton's Neck, along with rescue teams from the Nassau County Police Department, Oyster Bay Constable, Tow Boat U.S., and several local fire departments aided in the rescue efforts, according to a statement from the U.S. Coast Guard.
Owners of private boats dragged people into their vessels until crews from law enforcement agencies and fire departments arrived, The Associated Press reported. Witnesses say they saw adults and children in the water and did what they could to help, including throwing life jackets and life preservers in the water.
A total of 27 people were originally aboard the 34-foot Silverton vessel, according to authorities.
Police are now investigating whether the vessel sank because of overcrowding. Some of the passengers aboard the boat had life jackets, while others did not, Lack said.
Sammy Balasso, an area boater who says he saw the boat sink, told Newsday that he saw the yacht turn right and then tip over after it was hit by a wake.
"It was like in slow motion. ... All of a sudden, a lot of bodies were in the water," Balasso said.
Insp. Lack said there were a tremendous amount of boats in the water to celebrate the holiday.