Three children died when a boat carrying more than two dozen people capsized late Wednesday night after a fireworks show near Oyster Bay.
Nassau County Detective Lt. John Azzata said Thursday that a boy and two girls, ages 12, 11 and 8, died after the 34-foot Silverton cabin cruiser began sinking about 10 p.m.
Others on the boat were rescued by people from the more than 100 boats nearby and emergency personnel.
“Divers had to get in, recover the bodies and get out safely,” Azzata said of the dramatic efforts as the boat, which had sunk in about 21 feet of water, drifted into waters 65 or 70 feet deep. “ The boat is sinking and drifting the whole time,” he said.
The three children were identified as David Aurelino 12, Harley Treanor 11, and Victoria Gaines 8, all Suffolk County residents.
"The boat could have sunk for many reasons," Azzata said. There were reports that a wake from another boat may have capsized the craft or that overcrowding could have been a factor.
Azzata said the boat had recently been purchased but did not have more information. Azzata, chief of the homicide squad, said the boat sank between Lloyds Neck and Centre Island.
Nassau Police public information officer Vincent Garcia said the department did not have the ability to raise the boat but that the Coast Guard or other agency would have to bring it to the surface and haul it to Bay Park for examination.
The accident occurred a couple of hundred feet from the opening to the Long Island Sound, near the entrance to Oyster Bay and the harbor.
Emergency personnel included Town of Oyster Bay bay constables, New York Police Department scuba divers, Suffolk County Police Department scuba divers, Atlantic Steamer Volunteer Fire Department and the Coast Guard.
The Coast Guard did not immediately return calls about the tragedy.
The boat was carrying 27 people at the time of the accident, which occured just off the coast of
Local police stated the passengers were out on the water watching 4th of July fireworks when the area — filled with many other boaters as well — was struck by a thunderstorm.
Investigators say the storm, as well as crowded conditions on the water and in the boat, may have contributed to the accident.
In addition to the coast guard and local first responders, several private boaters also assisted in the rescue effort, with all 27 passengers pulled from the water.
One person was removed from the water dead. Two others were found by divers within the boat after it sank, ABC News reports.
Officials report some of the passengers may not have been wearing life jackets at the time the incident occured.