A yacht full of people enjoying Fourth of July fireworks capsized in Long Island Sound Wednesday night, killing three children and sending 24 others into the water.
The victims were two girls, ages 8 and 11, and a 12-year-old boy. One body was found floating in the water at 10:10 p.m. and the other two were discovered inside the 1984 Silverton yacht’s cabin.
The accident’s cause has not been determined, but authorities suspect it could have been the result of overcrowding, weather conditions or being swamped by another vessel, The Associated Press reports. It is also unclear if the vessel was carrying enough life jackets.
Rescue efforts were hampered by the number of people in the water, the time of day and the vast number of boats out celebrating the holiday, NBC New York reports. A special marine warning was in effect for the area where the accident occurred Wednesday night. Weather reports indicate that a severe thunder storm passed through the area between 10:30 and 11:00 p.m. that night.
Local boater Sammy Balasso and his nephew, 15-year-old Frankie Barbone, witnessed the accident and rescued 20 people from the water.
“It was like in slow motion,” Balasso told Newsday. “All of a sudden, a lot of bodies were in the water.”