Lake George, NY Tourist Boat ETHAN ALLEN Sinking, Oct 2005
The boat sank to the lake bottom in water about 70 feet deep, officials said. Witnesses said that the passengers had not been wearing life preservers, but that few on such cruise boats do. State law requires that life vests be aboard tour boats, but not that they be worn at all times.
The Web site for Shoreline Cruises, owner of the Ethan Allen and other tour boats, says it ordinarily makes short trips and follows a route that hugs the shore. Calls to the company yesterday were not returned.
Jim Quick, whose family has owned and operated Shoreline Cruises for decades, told The Glen Falls Post-Star: "It is a tragedy and it's very unfortunate."
Wayne E. Bennett, the superintendent of the New York State Police, and Larry Cleveland, the Warren County sheriff, said it was not clear what had caused the accident. They said that there had been many reports of another tour boat in the area at the time, but that they could not be sure that its wake had had anything to do with the Ethan Allen foundering.
They said the Ethan Allen's pilot, Richard Paris, whom investigators were interviewing, had not been tested for drug or alcohol use, because there was no evidence of intoxication that would warrant such a test.
Sheriff Cleveland said the accident occurred about 3 p.m. Conditions were ideal for boating - the temperature was in the 70s and it was a brilliantly sunny, nearly windless day. The Ethan Allen carried nearly its maximum load of 50 people including the captain.
Representative John E. Sweeney, whose district encompasses Lake George and who spoke with several survivors, said there was "a very quick turn, and then the boat rolled over. They didn't have a lot of time to react."
Both the sheriff and Glens Falls Hospital, where both the living and the dead were taken put the death toll at 21.
Fourteen of the passengers who were plunged into the water were members of a group of elderly tourists from Trenton, Mich., south of Detroit; three of them died, said Gerald R. Brown, the mayor of Trenton. The tour began in New Hampshire and passed through Vermont on its way to Lake George, and was scheduled to conclude in nearby Saratoga Springs.
"They were taking a New England color tour, is what they were doing, and this stop was one of the stops on their way home," said Patrick Hawkins, Trenton's director of Parks and Recreation. He said that he had first heard about the accident when someone called to tell him of a report about it on television.
Two of the dead from Trenton, were FRANCIS W. WROCK and JOYCE CHAPMAN, according to MR. WROCK'S son, Douglas. He said his father, a retired engineer, loved New England in the fall and wanted to tour the region with MS. CHAPMAN, with whom he was romantically involved.
Douglas Wrock said that just last week, he and his two brothers gave their father a birthday present, a replacement for the college ring he had lost - University of Michigan, class of 1941. "He'd worn it forever," the son said.
They had the new ring inscribed with their initials and MS. CHAPMAN'S.
"I'm glad he got it," Douglas Wrock said.