3 boaters dead, 1 rescued after bi-national search in Lake Oneida, N.Y.

Great Lakes Coast Guard NewsCLEVELAND — One boater was rescued Thursday evening and three others were located deceased Friday morning after search crews from the U.S. Coast Guard, Coast Guard Auxiliary, Canadian, state and local agencies searched Oneida Lake, N.Y., for the boaters who were ejected from their 26-foot vessel after reportedly hit a dayboard Thursday evening.

Watchstanders at Coast Guard Station Oswego, N.Y., received initial notification of the accident at about 10:30 p.m. from local 911 dispatchers. The operator of another recreational vessel in the area reported that four people were ejected into the water and was able to recover one of them. That individual’s condition is currently unknown.

Additional search crews from: Madison County Fire Department; Bridgeport Fire Department; Cleveland, N.Y., Fire Department; Brewerton Water Rescue; and the New York State Police were also involved in the search, ceasing when reaching crew-fatigue limits.

Searching this morning were: a rescue boatcrew aboard a 25-foot Response Boat-Small, from Coast Guard Station Oswego, N.Y., an aircrew from Coast Guard Air Station Detroit, aboard an MH-65C Dolphin rescue helicopter; a Coast Guard Auxiliary boatcrew; Sylvan Beach, N.Y., Fire Department rescue crews; and other state and local rescue crews.

A Royal Canadian Air Force Griffon helicopter, dispatched by the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre in Trenton, Ontario, arrived on scene at about 7 a.m.

A dive team from the New York State Police located the three missing boaters deceased at about 7:45 a.m. Their bodies have been turned over to Oneida County Sheriff’s Office, and they will be conducting next-of-kin notifications.

The cause of the accident is not known, and the Oneida County Sheriff’s Office will be conducting an investigation.

The boat remains partially submerged and commercial salvage is slated to remove the boat Saturday. The Coast Guard has issued a safety marine information broadcast.

None of the men were reportedly wearing life jackets.

“Any loss of life is deeply regrettable,” said Cmdr. Roxanne Tamez, the chief of response at Coast Guard Sector Buffalo. “But, that is why we’ve forged a strong relationship with our Canadian, state, and local partners to allow us to respond faster and search longer.”

“We also strive to educate the boating public to take important safety measures, most importantly wearing a life jacket.”

The Coast Guard recommends that mariners wear a properly fitting Coast Guard-approved life jacket at all times while underway. According to the Coast Guard’s Recreational Boating Statistics 2011 report, the most current verified statistics available, of the 533 people across the nation who drowned in recreational boating accidents in 2011, 84 percent were not wearing a life jacket.

The 1999 tri-lateral search-and-rescue agreement between the United States, Canada and United Kingdom has allowed any of the nations to prompt action in the preservation of life on the Great Lakes. The relationship between U.S. and Canadian agencies allows for seamless integration during search-and-rescue operations.

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