The Nassau County (N.Y.) district attorney's office ruled out criminal charges in the Oyster Bay boating accident on the Fourth of July that killed three children.
John Byrne, a spokesman for Nassau District Attorney Kathleen Rice, told the Long Island publication Newsday that a county police investigation uncovered a "unique combination of circumstances" that led to the capsizing of the 34-foot cabin cruiser.
Although no evidence of criminal wrongdoing was found, the investigation uncovered "gaping holes in the maritime regulatory system and contributory design flaws in the vessel," Byrne told the paper. He declined to elaborate.
Preliminary findings had the vessel meeting basic safety standards, including the number of life jackets, but investigators have since determined that the vessel's design made it unstable in certain conditions.
The 1984 Silverton cruiser, Kandi Won, had 27 people onboard, at least 10 of them children, when it capsized and sank about 10 p.m. near the mouth of Oyster Bay. The boat was heading back to Huntington after a fireworks display.
The operator of the boat, Sal Aureliano, said the vessel was struck by a large wake that he couldn't see in the dark.
Aureliano said last summer that he saw lightning shortly before the accident, but the National Weather Service said a thunderstorm moved through the area later that night and winds never exceeded 10 to 15 mph.
Three children trapped in the cabin when the boat capsized died: cousins David Aureliano, 12, and Harlie Treanor, 11; and family friend Victoria Gaines, 7.
Victoria's father, Paul Gaines of Huntington, said he hopes the final report sheds more light on the accident.
"There were dangerous conditions on the water that night, and I'm committed to finding out where the responsibilities lie," he told the paper. "No matter what the report says, it is clear that boating safety laws, rules and regulations need to be examined and some changed."
Gaines said he has been working with federal and state officials to draft legislation that improves maritime safety.