LI families devastated after boat flips, killing three children

Grief-stricken Long Island families yesterday cried and hugged as they relived their frantic, futile search for three children trapped in the cabin of an overcrowded yacht when it flipped and sank in dark, rough waters after a July 4 fireworks outing.

“it was a nightmare, it was a frigging movie,’’ said a shaken passenger who is a friend of Sal Aureliano, who was operating the boat.

“Screaming kids, totally black. just chaos. We didn’t know what happened. it was sudden.”

Aureliano is the uncle of two of the victims, Harlie Treanor and her cousin David Aureliano, both 12.

The third victim, Victoria Gaines, would have turned 8 today.

Asked why the 15-passenger capacity boat had 27 people on board, the friend said, “Don’t blame Sal. We all got on the boat.”

Investigators are deciding whether to file criminal charges.

the survivors are just trying to cope with their unthinkable losses.

“We are all devastated,” said a weeping Marlys Ambrosio, 69, Harlie’s grandmother.

“These families are all close. Her 8-year-old sister doesn’t even know what happened yet.”

The yacht, named Candi 1, was packed mostly with teens and children — family and close friends — who had crowded on board to catch the fireworks over Long Island Sound off Oyster Bay.

The boat — weighed down by the overcrowding and swamped by a flash storm and the wake of other vessels leaving the fireworks display — was hit by a rogue wave, witnesses said.

Everyone on board, except the three trapped kids, were tossed into the waters off Lloyd Harbor.

Aureliano — whose brother-in-law, Kevin Treanor, owns the 34-foot boat — said it was hit by a wave just after 10 p.m. as he was heading back to its home port at the Harbor Yacht Club in Huntington.

“We were coming home when a wake got us, and it turned the boat around,” Aureliano, 50, told Long Island’s News 12.

“it was dark. it was off to the side. I didn’t see it. it just happened. next thing I know, everybody was in the water.”

Witnesses described a scene of chaos and panicked scene, as the passengers flailed around in the dark waters, trying to save themselves — and find their missing children.

“David . . . Victoria!” parents called out, said witness Frankie Barbona, 15, who was on a boat piloted by his uncle, Sam Galasso.

“it was complete mayhem. People started screaming.”

Barbona and Galasso pulled several survivors onto their boat.

Hours after the disaster, rescuers dived 60-feet to recover the bodies of the three tragic youngsters from the boat.

Mitch Kramer, the owner of TowBoat US, was one of the first people to respond to the sinking vessel — diving below the surface with an air line connected to his own boat.

LI families devastated after boat flips, killing three children

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