Survivors mark 10 years since Ethan Allen tour boat sinking


It’s been 10 years since the sinking of the Ethan Allen in upstate New York that killed 20 senior citizens and changed the entire tour boat industry in the state.

Margie Kidon remembers the moment the boat capsized.

She was on the tour boat’s left side, facing the middle of Lake George on a beautiful early October afternoon, chatting with friends from the seniors group she was with, when she saw a boat pass on the other side of the tour boat, according to the Glens Falls Post Star.

Seconds later, the tour boat rocked, passengers began falling and the boat overturned. She was one of the lucky ones; 20 others were killed.

A National Transportation Safety Board investigation spanned about nine months and resulted in a 3,300-page report that concluded a number of factors played a part in the capsizing, but stopped short of placing blame.

The agency found the boat was overloaded because standards for the weight of passengers were outdated and found that alterations, including the addition of a canopy, affected the boat’s stability.

The Ethan Allen should have carried no more than 14 people, but held nearly three times that on the day it went down. It had been certified to carry 50, based on estimates of people weighing 140 pounds apiece. The passengers that day weighed as much as 268 pounds each.

The conclusion that the boat was overloaded led to sweeping changes to decades-old state regulations for the industry, some suggested by the grand jury that reviewed the facts of the case.

With the average person’s weight heavier now than decades ago, passenger limits were reduced on many boats.

Read more about the tragedy and the litigation that ensued in the Glens Falls Post Star.