20 Michigan Passengers Killed In Boat Accident

Published On: Nov 29 2012 02:27:31 PM EST   Updated On: Oct 03 2005 11:30:00 AM EDT

Twenty passengers who were killed when a tour boat capsized in upstate New York on Sunday are from Michigan, Local 4 reported.

The Ethan Allen tour boat capsized Sunday on Lake George, Local 4 reported. More than 40 senior citizens were on board the glass-enclosed tour boat when the accident occurred.

Francis Wrock, 87, Joyce Chatmen, 59, and Earl Hawley, 76, all of Trenton, Mich., were killed in the accident, Local 4 reported. Wrock and Chatmen were traveling alone, while Hawley was traveling with his wife, according to the report.

The three Michigan victims were part of a Trenton senior citizens group of 14 who boarded the tour boat to view the autumn colors, Local 4 reported. One person from Trenton -- whose name was not released -- remains hospitalized.

The names of the remaining Michigan victims who were killed in the accident were not released pending family notification, Local 4 reported.

Twenty-seven people survived, including the boat's captain, Local 4 reported.

Authorities believe the wake from another vessel caused the 40-foot tour boat to sink. The boat quickly overturned and nobody on board had time to put on a life preserver, Local 4 reported.

"They were turning left ... There must have been too much weight on the left side of the boat when the wake hit it just started going over too much," said Lake George resident Rick Sause.

Adult boat passengers are not required to wear life preservers in New York, but boats must carry at least one life jacket per person, Local 4 reported. The boat had a licensed capacity of 50 people, according to the station's reports.

"There was all these people in the water," said witness Joanne Rahal.

Rahal said some passengers had life jackets and some did not. She said she tried to help as many victims onto her boat as she could.

The National Transportation Safety Board is expected to investigate Monday when the vessel is lifted out of the water.

Trenton Group On Board Tour Boat

The group from Michigan, the Trenton Travelers, left from Trenton's Parks and Recreation Department last Tuesday for an autumn colors trip.

They were expected to return this Tuesday after visiting New York, Vermont and New Hampshire, Local 4 reported.

Eleven of the group members were from Trenton, two were from Gibraltar, Mich., and one was from Lincoln Park. The group has been traveling together for years, Local 4 reported.

Trenton Parks and Recreation officials have been trying to contact members of the group to inform them of what happened.

"We're saddened. We're in mourning," said Trenton Mayor Gerald Brown. "Many people on that list I know."

Brown said the community's prayers are with the deceased.

Mack and Ann McGunagel were among the survivors of the boat accident. When their daughter, Annie Pearson, said she heard about the news, she feared the worst. Her parents called her from a New York hospital to tell her they were OK.

"My mom told me that she was just lost, " said Pearson.

Pearson said her mother said goodbye to her children and her grandchildren, not believing she would survive.

Anyone who would like to check on friends or family members who may have been aboard the tour boat should contact the Warren County Sheriff's Department at (518) 743-2500 or Glen Falls Hospital at (518) 926-1000.

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