- The Washington Times - Monday, October 3, 2005

LAKE GEORGE, N.Y. (AP) — A boat carrying tourists on a senior citizens’ cruise overturned yesterday on a lake in upstate New York, killing at least 20 persons and sending more than two dozen to a hospital.

The accident may have occurred when the boat was hit by the wake of a larger passing vessel, Warren County Sheriff Larry Cleveland said. “We haven’t ruled anything out yet,” he said.

The 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. With calm waters, clear skies and temperatures in the 70s, it seemed perfect boating weather.

The accident apparently happened so fast that none of the passengers was able to put on a life jacket, Sheriff Cleveland said. Adult boat passengers are not required to wear life jackets in New York.

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.

Twenty-seven persons were taken to a hospital in nearby Glens Falls. All of the injured were cold and wet, some with broken ribs and some complaining of shortness of breath. Five patients were admitted, and the others were treated and released, a hospital spokesman said.

Officials gave conflicting information on the number of dead and passengers. Sheriff Cleveland said 48 or 49 persons were aboard, which is close to the boat’s maximum capacity of 50.

Representatives of Shoreline Cruises, which operates the boat, could not be reached for comment.

The boat’s owner, Jim Quirk, whose family has operated Shoreline Cruises for decades, told the Glens Falls Post-Star: “It is a tragedy and it’s very unfortunate.”

The boat was carrying a tour group from Canada, Sheriff Cleveland said. A language barrier was slowing the process of notifying victims’ families.

“Nothing of this magnitude has ever happened,” state police Superintendent Wayne Bennett said. “It’s unprecedented.”

As dusk fell, several police boats were on the water, and at least a half-dozen divers were in a small cove on the west side of the lake. The Ethan Allen lay at the bottom of the lake in 70 feet of water.

Sheriff Cleveland said the captain, who is well-known and well-liked by law-enforcement officials, survived. He was the only crew member aboard.

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