SYLVAN BEACH — The powerboat that hit the buoy on Oneida Lake late Thursday night flipped over when it crashed, possibly throwing the four passengers on board into the dark waters.
Without life jackets, 66-year-old Anthony Aceto and his two sons drowned.
The Sheriff’s Office raised the 20-footer out of the water this morning, and will examine the vessel to try and piece together what caused it to crash into a lighted buoy shortly after 10 p.m.
"We know it hit the buoy on the bottom, and it appears it flipped," said Lt. James McCarthy this morning. As head of the Marine Patrol, McCarthy was overseeing the salvage near the Messenger Shoal, about five miles west of Sylvan Beach.
"We’re in vessel recovery, examination for damage; that’s it for today," McCarthy stated from the scene. He said the department is not yet ready to comment on what may have caused the powerboat to crash. The buoy — No. 113 — is a 9-foot-wide concrete pillar, which supports several tall rods with green lights on top. Messenger Shoal is a very shallow spot in the lake, where the depth suddenly rises from 30 to 40-feet deep to less than 10. The buoy is designed to warn boaters about the shoal. Officials said the powerboat sank in 15 feet of water.
Investigators are also trying to determine if speed or alcohol were factors in the crash.
The only survivor, Anthony J. Aceto, of Whitesboro, remains in fair condition this morning at St. Elizabeth Medical Center in Utica, officials said. His father Anthony Aceto, of Utica, and brothers Timothy Aceto, 33, of Deerfield; and Stephen Aceto, 41, of Florida, drowned in the lake. Their bodies were recovered near the sunken vessel at about 7:30 a.m. Friday.
The 20-foot powerboat was owned by Timothy Aceto, McCarthy said. Once it is raised from the water, the boat will be brought to Snug Harbor at Verona Beach to begin the examination, McCarthy stated.