Three children were killed when a yacht capsized off Long Island on the Fourth of July, sending 24 others into the Long Island Sound, where many were rescued by fellow boaters, police said Thursday.
Two girls and a boy — ages 12, 11 and 8 — were in the cabin when the boat flipped.
The man operating the 34-foot Silverton motor yacht told News12 Long Island that the boat was hit by a wave, but authorities said they are investigating whether overcrowding may have caused the accident.
Similar Silverton yachts have a maximum capacity of 15. This vessel was carrying 27 passengers.
The boat was returning to Oyster Bay following a fireworks celebration.
Rescue units from the Coast Guard, Nassau County, New York City, Suffolk County, along with civilian boaters helped search for passengers.
The boat initially sank 20 feet underwater but has since drifted, and is now 60 feet below the surface.
Recovering the yacht will also help Nassau Police determine if the boat had enough life jackets on board.
"Everybody aboard the boat is required to have a life jacket," said Nassau Police spokesman James Imperiale. "If a child is under 12 and he is on deck he is required to have a life vest on. If he's in the cabin he's not required to have one on. Whether or not they were wearing life vests is still being looked at."
The first body was found shortly after the 911 call came in around 10 p.m. Wednesday, and the two others were found later inside the yacht, said Nassau County Deputy Inspector Kenneth Lack.
He said the operation took a long time because "at night in an area like this, it is very dangerous."