Woman and child killed in Hudson River boating accident identified

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Thursday, July 14, 2022
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Josh Einiger has the latest on a deadly boating accident in the Hudson River that killed a woman and a 7-year-old boy.

NEW YORK (WABC) -- Two relatives, one visiting from Colombia and another from Florida, died when their boat overturned on Manhattan's West Side Tuesday, injuring 11 others.

The victims who died were identified as 7-year-old Julian Vasquez, from Florida, and 47-year-old Lindelia Vasquez, from Colombia, who were part of a group of family members who got onto the jet boat named Stimulus Money in Elizabeth, New Jersey, for a trip on the Hudson River.

Video from a restaurant in Elizabeth, New Jersey showed the 7-year-old victim and others picking up food Tuesday for the reunion, organized by Lindelia Vasquez.

Ten other family members, ranging in age from 19 to 53 and all from either Florida or Colombia, were injured, as was the 24-year-old boat captain, who was licensed and is from Elizabeth.

He remains in critical condition, while the surviving passengers are believed to have non-life threatening injuries.

"This is a devastating moment for them and those who are part of the families that were there," Mayor Eric Adams said. "As New Yorkers our heart goes out."

The 27-foot Yamaha vessel overturned near the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum for unknown reasons, although investigators suspect it got caught in the wake of a passing boat.

The boat's owner was following behind the craft on a jet ski.

Eyewitness News obtained timelapse video showing the boat making its way down the river near the Intrepid.

All appeared normal, then a geyser of water could be seen as the boat suddenly flipped over.

According to the FDNY, marine and land units responded to the Hudson River off of West 46th Street and Pier 84 in Midtown Manhattan just after 2:45 p.m.

Officials say the boy and woman died after getting trapped underneath the boat.

"Obviously anytime it's a child, it changes maybe your emotional state, but you just do what you have to do," firefighter Ryan Warnock said. "You train for this. That's what we're here to do."

Warnock found the 7-year-old boy and rescue medics tried everything to save him. But by the time he got to the hospital, it was too late for him and the woman who had also been trapped.

Nearby ferries rushed to the scene to help police and fire department rescuers get people out of the water, and officials said had they not, the outcome could've been far worse.

In a statement, the operator of New York Waterway Ferry said two of its ferries responded. Its crews rescued nine people who had been on the boat.

"We kicked in and did what we had to do," a New York Waterway Ferry employee said. "We put on our life jackets, flipped the boat and flipped the adjacent cradle down, and started pulling the passengers out."

An eyewitness saw the incident unfold aboard one of the ferries.

"We went on the boat ferry and we saw a boat capsized," Rabbi Yochanan Marsow said. "Everyone on the boat and they were screaming, so the ferry stopped and they threw out life vests. And then we pulled them up one by one."

Aboard the ferry were some of the same crew members who rescued passengers from U.S. Airways Flight 1549, also known as the Miracle on the Hudson, which crash landed in the Hudson River more than a decade ago.

Divers lifted the boat from the Hudson River Monday night.

Investigators are looking into how many people were onboard and at their cumulative weight, but they say it's too soon to know what went wrong.

"We had the current, the wind, so you could have wakes approaching from different directions, waves from different directions," NYPD Harbor inspector Anthony Russo said. "The Hudson River's always a dangerous place to operate."

In the wake of the tragedy, the U.S. Coast Guard is urging personal boating safety, reminding all boaters to remember basic safety tips before every boating trip:

--Always wear a life jacket. There is usually very little time to reach for stowed vests when accidents occur. Wearing one at all times reduces the risk of drowning. Federal law requires mariners to have a personal flotation device aboard for each passenger.

--Have sufficient means of communication including a VHF radio. VHF channel 16 is the international hailing and distress frequency and can be used to reach the Coast Guard during emergencies.

--Large commercial and military ships have the right-of-way over smaller and more maneuverable boats on the water. It is illegal, according to Rule 9 of the Inland and International Rules of the Road, for boats less than 65 feet in length to impede the passage of these ships or to cross in front of these ships that impede their passage.

--Be on the lookout for illegal charters. If the vessel is carrying six or more passengers, it must have a valid Coast Guard Certificate of Inspection. Passengers can ask the captain of the vessel to verify their license and the inspection status of the boat.

--Do not carry more passengers than a boat is designed for. Check the boat's maximum capacity plate (if equipped). Do not carry more passengers or more weight than the boat is designed for. Overloading can cause the boat to ride lower in the water, reduce the vessel's stability and greatly increase the chance of capsizing. Additionally, too much weight on one side of the boat can cause the vessel to list and increase the chances of capsizing.

--Never boat under the influence. It is illegal to operate a boat while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. There are stringent penalties for violating BUI/BWI laws, which can include large fines, suspension or revocation of boat operator privileges and jail terms.

--Never turn your back on the water. There are strong rip currents along the Atlantic coast, and sneaker waves are common.

--Dress for the water temperature, not the air temperature. Even if boaters do not plan to enter the water, they should be prepared for an emergency. Paddleboarders, kayakers and wind surfers who are likely to go in the water should wear a wetsuit to decrease their risk of hypothermia and a life jacket to prevent them from drowning before rescuers can get on scene.

--File a float plan. A float plan is simply letting family and friends know where you are going and your expected time of return. File a float plan with someone who is not getting underway with you and stick to the plan. A float plan assists responders in the search of an overdue boater who may be in distress. Float plans can be filed through the Coast Guard's safety app.

"We offer our deepest condolences to those affected by this tragic accident," said Coast Guard Captain Zeita Merchant, captain of the port of New York. "We can't stress enough how important it is to know your vessel's limits and how to safely navigate the waters you are operating in. We are incredibly grateful for the swift response of our partner agencies and the ferry crews who acted as quickly as possible to prevent any further casualties."

ALSO READ | 3 teens killed, 1 critical after Staten Island crash

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