Despite darkness, boat operator Alexander West and four passengers on his boat had to have known they hit a boat and caused injury in Monday night’s fatal boat crash , Warren County Sheriff Nathan “Bud” York said Friday.
“There’s no question, no question, they knew they hit another boat,” he said at a press conference on the arrests of West and his passengers. “From what we’re getting from witnesses, they’d have to be deaf not to know they hurt someone.”
The 9:24 p.m. collision off Cramer Point took the life of 8-year-old Charlotte McCue of Carlsbad, Cali., and seriously injured her mother, who was sitting beside her.
York said West’s boat passed over the top of the victims’ boat, and they were struck by the propeller of West’s boat, which was damaged. The mother has since been released from Albany Medical Center, York said.
York said that West’s boat went over the top of the boat being driven by McCue’s grandfather, and that West did not stop. McCue and her mother were sitting in the middle of their boat when West’s boat went over the top of them and then kept going.
“All five of them, in concert, decided to run and decided to lie about it,” York said.
West, 24, of Lockhart Mountain Road, Lake George, faces the most serious charges, two felony counts of leaving the scene of an accident. He was arraigned Friday afternoon in Lake George Town Court, and released on $50,000 cash or $100,000 bond pending a future court appearance.
More charges are possible, since the results of alcohol and drug blood tests aren’t yet available. “There’s indication they were drinking during the day,” York said.
It is believed the party had attended Log Bay Day, a large party held annually in a secluded bay on the eastern side of the lake.
The other people in the boat face misdemeanor charges. They are:
-- Matthew J. Marry, 28, of County Route 41, Kingsbury, charged with making a false written statement, offering a false instrument and hindering prosecution.
-- Morland C. Keyes, 27, of First Street, Glens Falls, making a false written statement and offering a false instrument for filing.
-- Cara Mia Canale, 27, of Eileen Street, Albany, hindering prosecution and offering a false instrument for filing.
-- Kristine C. Tiger, 28, of County Route 41, Kingsbury, hindering prosecution.
All were freed either on bail or their own recognizance.
“Basically the hindering was not telling the truth to us from the beginning,” York said.
“There were lots of excuses, but none of them to us was plausible,” York said.
All the passengers had been located and were being interviewed by the time West came to the sheriff’s office in Queensbury with his father at about 9 a.m. the day after the crash, York said.
York said Tuesday that they took the boat to the Tea Island Resort about a mile away and left it at one of the docks there, leaving without reporting the accident. The boat was found within 15 or 20 minutes after the crash, which was reported by others.
A plea on Tuesday for any public videos or photographs resulted in investigators receiving a very high-quality surveillance video that shows the crash. “We have very good video of this boating accident,” he said.
He said both boats were southbound, though at different angles, and both had their lights on.
“The video shows the victim boat going very slow and the other boat was going much faster,” York said.
West was operating a 22-foot power boat, while the victims’ family was in a 28-foot boat, York said earlier this week.
Outside Lake George court, West’s attorney, Steve Coffey of Albany, said West had done nothing wrong and wasn’t obligated to stop, a statement that drew an angry response from York.
“If you hit somebody you have an obligation to stop,” York said.
The tragedy has prompted the sheriff, the Department of Environmental Conservation and Lake George Park Commission to look at whether there are ways to prevent Log Bay Day. There’s already a heavy law enforcement presence there, though. There were more than two dozen arrests at this year’s party.
“If you’re going to drink, don’t drive your boat,” York said.
Reach Gazette reporter Stephen Williams at 395-3086, firstname.lastname@example.org or @gazettesteve on Twitter.