Monday, October 03, 2005

Tragedy at Lake George

I initially heard about this not long after the first reports. This is just awful.
21 Die As Tour Boat Capsizes on N.Y. Lake

LAKE GEORGE, N.Y. - A seemingly ideal day of sailing along a calm but busy mountain lake turned abruptly tragic Sunday when a tour boat carrying a group of senior citizens overturned, killing 21 people and injuring dozens more.

The glass-enclosed Ethan Allen was carrying tourists from Michigan on a fall foliage tour when it capsized shortly before 3 p.m. The accident on Lake George may have occurred when the boat was hit by the wake of a larger vessel, Warren County Sheriff Larry Cleveland said.

"We haven't ruled anything out yet," Cleveland said.

The 40-foot boat was carrying a tour group from the Trenton, Mich., area, and was sailing just north of the village of Lake George, a popular tourist destination about 50 miles north of Albany in the Adirondack Mountains. With calm waters, clear skies and temperatures in the 70s, it seemed perfect boating weather.

U.S. Rep. John Sweeney (news, bio, voting record), who talked with survivors at the hospital, said the boat flipped in about 30 seconds, giving victims no time to react. The sheriff said none of the passengers was able to put on a life jacket.

Adult boat passengers are not required to wear life jackets in New York, but boats must carry at least one life jacket per person.

Patrol boats that reached the scene within minutes found other boaters already pulling people from the water. All passengers had been accounted for within two hours....

Dorothy Warren, a resident who said she brought blankets and chairs to shore for survivors, said one passenger told her "she saw a big boat coming close and she said, 'Whoop-dee-doo. I love a rocking boat.'"

Warren said the woman did not know how she got out of the water but said her mother was killed....

The weather did not appear to be a factor on the lake, a long, narrow body of water that is a popular tourist destination in the summer and quiets down after Labor Day. The water temperature was 68 degrees....
Lake George is one of my favorite places anywhere, and definitely my favorite place in the entire state. Right now it's nothing short of gorgeous, with temperatures starting to cool, the leaves beginning to turn, and the lack of summer tourists. Any "touristy" elements cannot mar the natural splendor, or the history. Fort William Henry, of "The Last of the Mohicans" fame, once stood at the lake's southern end. (A replica is there today.)

It's very special to me because my dad also loved it so. The first time I went there was in 1983, when we visited his brothers and my half-brothers in Schenectady (the family hometown). We took a ride on one of the paddleboats and wandered around, that is, as much as a 7-year-old boy would tolerate. When I moved to New York in 2000, I was planning to send him plane tickets so he could come out and visit. Our joint return to Lake George, lush and green at the time, would be at the top of the list.

Then he suddenly grew weak, and the doctor diagnosed his cancer in the final stages. My father had suspected something for several months prior but never mentioned the pain, feeling that he was getting old anyway. I still do not share his sentiment. After he died, we did, in a way, return to Lake George together: it was the proper place to scatter his ashes. Not in the water, though. That's illegal because it's a public water source, so I scattered his ashes around the Indian monument.

Notice that patrol boats arrived "within minutes," but people were already being rescued -- apparently by private individuals who weren't about to wait for government to save the victims. Contrast this with the woman last June who began proceedings to sue New York City, because she claims the city was negligent to allow wild dogs to roam around and eventually attack hers.

I have a feeling big government (in Albany, not too far away) will soon step in and mandate that all boat passengers wear life jackets. It may have saved some lives here, but I side with Walter Williams, who would ask if you or the government owns yourself, and why you don't take responsibility for your own actions and their consequences.


Blogger thomas said...

Hard to believe the Lake George incident was only a week ago.
Here's a take on it, seven days later:

Sunday, October 09, 2005 10:44:00 AM  

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