After Fatal Crash, Authorities Seek To End Annual Lake George Party

Jul 28, 2016

Note: The Warren County Sheriff's office has corrected the age of the victim as 8, not 9, as initially announced.

Credit Lucas Willard / WAMC

On Monday evening, a boating crash claimed the life of  9-year-old Charlotte McCue of California. Her mother was also injured in the crash.

The incident has sparked outcry over the past few days with many connecting the accident to the so-called Log Bay Day. The event, which has no formal organization, is held on the last Monday in July.

In a press conference carried by TWC News, Warren County Sheriff “Bud” York said police were investigating the hit-and-run to confirm if the driver of the boat that struck McCue and her family, Alexander West, had attended  the large party in the secluded portion of the lake.

“Anybody that was at Log Bay if they have any video of Log Bay, we’d like it. If they have any video and they know Mr. West and his boat, we’d like that video as well,” York said.

Warren County District Attorney Kate Hogan said she could not comment on the incident at this time, as the investigation is still under way.

But many local leaders are now seeking to end the July tradition that has grown over the years.

Town of Lake George Supervisor Dennis Dickinson said he’s talked with members of the town board about ending the celebration. Drinking is a significant part of the bash, and many have criticized it.

“We’ve not done anything officially as a town board, but it’s on our agenda and we’re definitely going to look at it and talk about it,” said Dickinson.

Complaints have been made about litter and human waste, not to mention the dangers of boating and drinking. More than two dozen were arrested and several were injured on Monday.

Village of Lake George Mayor Bob Blais said he’s been out to Log Bay the day after the annual event to pick up glass from the lake bottom. He said he plans to submit a resolution asking the Lake George Park Commission and state Department of Environmental Conservation to do something about the event.

“Certainly to have an event like this take place in the middle of the summer is just asking for trouble and we shouldn’t be spending taxpayers’ dollars and things like that that has no redeeming value to any of the communities or any of the residents around the lake,” said Blais.

Dave Wick, Executive Director of the Lake George Park Commission, which operates patrol boats on the lake, said the Commission also seeks to put an end to Log Bay Day.

“It is a crowd-sourced event. There’s not a permit that can be pulled. There’s not a regulation that can be developed. But I think with very actively engaged and aggressive law enforcement on that day and with prior notice to potential attendees ahead of time, I think we can really, strongly discourage the kind of activity that happened out there this year and previous years,” said Wick.

A petition on Change.org started Wednesday calling for an end to Log Bay Day had more than 330 supporters by Thursday afternoon.

The petition, directed at State Assemblyman Dan Stec and State Senator Betty Little, asks “How many more years to we need to read about the numerous arrests made? How many more years do we have read about the serious injuries that happened?”

Stec said there is not an immediate answer in the days since the tragic accident. He said as law enforcement authorities conduct their investigation, it will take coordination between government agencies, lawmakers, and the public to reach a consensus on how to approach the event.

“What we need to do now is we need to figure out where are these shortcomings are; whether they’re on the enforcement end or if they’re on the legal end, as far as managing the lake; and then making sure that if changes need to be made either in staffing or in legislation, then we need to do that in time to make sure that we do what we can to try and avoid this in the future,” said Stec.

Because the annual tradition is not permitted, it may be hard to stop or control.

But Dickinson said as the community comes together in the wake of tragedy, the Log Bay cleebration’s days are numbered.

“The handwriting’s on the wall,” said Dickinson.