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Charges filed in Ethan Allen sinking

LAKE GEORGE Sixteen months after the tragic sinking of the Ethan Allen, misdemeanor charges have been filed in the case. Warren County District Attorney Kate Hogan announced Feb. 5 that the captain of the boat, Richard Paris, and the corporation that owned the boat, Shoreline Cruises, will be charged with minor criminal counts of New Yorks navigational law, as indicated by a grand jury. The panel could not bring any weightier charges in the accident that took 20 lives on Oct. 5, 2005. Both Paris and Shoreline Cruises were charged with not having another crew member on board the Ethan Allen that day, with 47 passengers. If there were more than 21 passengers, and less than 50, another crew member is required, Hogan said. Whether that would have made a difference that day, we cannot determine. The charge comes with a possible 15-day jail term and a $250 fine. The cause of the capsizing was not addressed by the grand jury. An investigation of the accident by the National Transportation Safety Board found that the boats instability, caused by its being overweight and top heavy, were likely causes. In addition to the indictments, the grand jury also put together a 15-page report that recommends legislative changes to avoid future accidents. That report has not been released to the public yet, but Hogan said that the report suggests changes to navigational law in three areas mandatory blood alcohol testing after an accident, vessel stability and crew member requirements. Paris may face brief jail time, but the Quirk family will not. There is no proof that the Quirks were on notice that their vessel wasnt in compliance, Hogan said. The corporation is facing the charge, not the Quirks.

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