Three children have died and 24 other people have been rescued from the water after a yacht capsized on the Fourth of July in Long Island Sound.
Authorities said the group had been watching fireworks on Oyster Bay as they celebrated Independence Day. Officials are still investigating the cause, but preliminary findings suggest that the boat was hit by a rogue wave.
The captain of the boat, Sal Aurelino, said that he was taking his yacht, the Candi One, home when lightning struck. Moments later, a wave struck the boat, turning it over, reported the Associated Press.
Police are attempting to determine if overcrowding or bad weather were factors.
David Aurelino 12, Harley Treanor, 11, and 8-year-old Victoria Gaines were found in the sunken boat's cabin. Twenty-four other individuals were recovered alive in the water.
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These individuals were out observing a fireworks show. They were returning from this fireworks display, Detective Lt. John Azzata of the Nassau County, N.Y., Police said at a news conference on Thursday, according to Reuters.
The boat began to sink around 10 p.m. and completely flipped over 10 minutes later. Surrounding boats began hauling people to safety until rescue crews arrived.
A nearby boater, Sam Galasso, saw the boat flip over after making a sharp turn.
A friend of mine was in my boat and shined a spotlight on them because their boat was getting close to us, Galasso said, reported the New York Post. Then we saw them take a sharp left and it flipped.
My friend screamed, 'You've got to help these people.' And I turned my boat and went toward them. Everyone in my boat did everything to get people out of the water.
Nassau County Deputy Inspector Kenneth Lack said most of the people who were underwater were rescued and taken to a nearby hospital for observation. They were all released without serious injuries.
The response was delayed because of the difficulty of a conducting a search and rescue in the dark.
(There were) a lot of people in the water, Lack said, the Daily Mail reported. It was a tremendous response from all the agencies. Most people were taken aboard other crafts very quickly.
The Nassau County Police said only some individuals were wearing life jackets. Azzata said that all boats must equipped with enough life preservers for each individual. Children under the age of 12 are required to wear a life jacket while on board, except in the cabin.