Boat crash on central NY lake kills father, 2 sons

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Associated Press

Posted on July 6, 2012 at 9:01 AM

Updated Friday, Jul 6 at 1:32 PM

SYLVAN BEACH, N.Y. (AP) — A motorboat struck a buoy on a central New York lake during a nighttime outing, killing a 66-year-old man and two of his adult sons, authorities said Friday.

The bodies of the three men — Anthony Aceto, of Utica; Stephen Aceto, 41, of Tampa, Fla.; and Timothy Aceto, 33, of Whitesboro — were recovered Friday morning near where the boat sank late Thursday night on Oneida Lake, Lt. James McCarthy of the Oneida County Sheriff's Office said.

A third son, a 39-year-old from Whitesboro also named Anthony, was rescued by friends who were boating nearby, McCarthy said. He was taken to St. Elizabeth Hospital in Utica for treatment of a broken shoulder and ribs.

The accident occurred around 10:45 p.m. Thursday when the Acetos' boat struck the concrete base of a buoy in an area known as Messenger Shoal, about five miles west of Sylvan Beach, on the lake's eastern end. They were returning to the village when the crash occurred, McCarthy said.

McCarthy said the buoy has a light that flashes intermittently. The cause of the crash was being investigated.

The boat's operator may have been unfamiliar with the lake or been distracted by fireworks being set off from shore and didn't spot the buoy in the darkness, McCarthy said. None of the men was wearing a lifejacket, he said.

A search involving volunteer fire departments, police agencies, helicopters and U.S. and Canadian Coast Guard vessels and aircraft was started late Thursday night and lasted until state police divers found the bodies around 7:30 a.m. Friday.

Police described the sunken vessel as an open-bow powerboat, about 20 feet in length. Its model and manufacturer weren't available, officials said. A salvage crew was expected to raise the boat Saturday, McCarthy said.

The accident on the upstate lake came one day after an overloaded yacht capsized off Oyster Bay in Long Island Sound, killing three children who were among 27 people aboard to watch July Fourth fireworks. Investigators were looking at possibilities including the weather, overcrowding and a wake from another vessel as reasons the 34-foot yacht flipped in heavy boat traffic. Killed were a 12-year-old boy and two girls, ages 11 and 8.

Whitesboro and Deerfield are near Utica, located 25 miles east of the lake.

Oneida Lake, at 80 square miles, is the largest lake entirely within New York state. Averaging 22 feet deep, it's 10 miles northeast of Syracuse and serves as one of the links in the Erie Canal. The lake is a recreational waterway for boaters from the Syracuse and Utica areas, with Sylvan Beach's bars, restaurants and amusement parks making it a popular summertime destination.

The spot where the crash occurred is part of the main east-west shipping channel on the canal's lake section and is well-marked with buoys, according to Michael Callahan, who owns a marina a few miles from Sylvan Beach. It's common around July 4 for lakeshore residents to ignite fireworks and for boaters to head out at night to watch them, he said.

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