Park commission shuts down lake party year after fatal crash
By CHRIS CAROLA
Jul. 25, 2017
ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — A state agency on Tuesday banned a raucous gathering of boaters from being held in a popular bay on an Adirondack lake after a fatal boat crash followed the annual event last year.
The action by the Lake George Park Commission came a year to the day after an 8-year-old California girl was killed and her mother was seriously injured when their motor boat was struck by another vessel. The commission, which enforces boating and other regulations on the 32-mile-long (52-kilometer-long) lake, unanimously approved a resolution that essentially prohibits Log Bay Day from being held next Monday in its namesake location.
Authorities have been working since soon after the accident on a plan to close off the bay on the last Monday of July, the party's traditional date. Commission Executive Director Dave Wick said the plan includes holding a police scuba diving team training exercise in Log Bay on that Monday and boosting the number of law enforcement patrol boats on the lake that day. Officials also have reduced parking availability on roads leading to Log Bay, where the partying usually spills onto land.
Authorities also will be monitoring social media for attempts to shift the party to another location on Lake George, whose many islands, bays and miles (kilometers) of tree-lined shores make it a popular destination for boaters.
The July 25, 2016, accident claimed the life of Charlotte McCue. She was riding in her grandfather's 28-foot-long (9-meter-long) wooden boat that night when it was struck by a 21-foot-long (6-meter-long) motor boat driven by Alexander West, a 25-year-old local resident who had spent the day partying with friends at Log Bay.
West's boat went airborne, and its propeller struck the girl, who was asleep on her mother's lap. The mother, Courtney McCue, suffered serious injuries. The McCue family, from Carlsbad, California, was vacationing at the grandfather's lakeside home.
West kept going, and neither he nor the four passengers in the boat reported the accident after they docked. He was convicted in May of manslaughter, criminally negligent homicide, boating while impaired by alcohol and leaving the scene of a crash.
West's attorney, Cheryl Coleman, said the prosecution lacked evidence that West was intoxicated. She portrayed West as a "dumb kid" who panicked after the crash, which she called an "unspeakable tragedy" but not a crime.
The accident touched off calls for authorities to end Log Bay Day, started 20 years ago by local musicians looking to give their friends working in Lake George's busy summer tourism industry a way to relax on their day off. The grassroots gathering, held in a secluded-yet-accessible shallow, sandy-bottomed bay on the lake's less developed eastern shore, grew over the years into an alcohol-fueled floating bash that attracted as many as 1,000 people partying on hundreds of vessels.
Officials vowed after last year's accident that Log Bay Day was over.
"It's not going to be a party atmosphere in that area," Wick said. "We want to make sure it never happens again."