ALBANY, N.Y. – A boating accident that ended in the death of a 9-year-old girl has prompted officials to consider scuttling an annual party on New York's Lake George that has become notorious for alcohol, arrests and chicken fights featuring topless women.
Charlotte McCue of Carlsbad, California, died Monday when her family's boat was struck by another vessel operated by someone believed to have attended the annual Log Bay Day party earlier that day.
Log Bay Day, which began nearly 20 years ago as a way for tourism industry workers to relax on their day off, now attracts hundreds of boats and sometimes more than 1,000 people to drink and wade in the lake's secluded Log Bay on the last Monday in July. This year's event resulted in more than two dozen arrests, including several for boating and driving while intoxicated.
"Log Bay Day has run its course," said David Wick, commissioner of the Lake George Park Commission, a state agency that enforces environmental and navigational laws on the 32-mile-long lake, a popular tourist destination 50 miles north of Albany. "It's becoming a public safety hazard."
Wick said he met this week with Warren County Sheriff Bud York and District Attorney Kate Hogan to discuss ways to minimize the Log Bay party or eliminate it altogether. But Wick acknowledged that since it's an informal gathering with no official permits required, the party could be difficult to regulate.
"The question is: Can we control every eventuality at the event? The answer is we cannot," he said.
According to the Warren County Sheriff's Office, McCue was riding in her grandfather's 28-foot boat when their vessel was broadsided around 9:30 p.m. Monday by a 21-foot-power boat piloted by Alexander West, 24, of Lake George. The girl's mother also was injured, but five other family members escaped harm.
Authorities said West didn't stop and instead continued to a nearby motel where he docked. Police said he and the four people on his boat then went home without reporting the collision. West showed up the next morning at the sheriff's office and submitted a blood test. He hadn't been charged Thursday afternoon.
A phone message left at a home where West is listed as a resident wasn't returned.
Secluded yet easily accessible by boat, the bay's shallow, sandy bottom made it a perfect party spot when James Looby and fellow musicians organized the first Log Bay Day in 1997.
"It was a huge success," said Looby, now a computer and information sciences professor at an Albany-area community college.
But Looby said he stopped going more than a decade ago, turned off by the drunken rowdiness and disregard for the lake's environment.
"It's a shame, it's really a shame," he said.
Wick said more than 60 officers from several local and state agencies were on duty at this year's event and authorities are considering assigning more in the future if the party is allowed to occur.
"If you party on that bay," he said, "you're going to have a lot of eyes on you."