For more than two weeks, a jury has heard arguments in the case of Alexander West, a Warren County man facing charges related to the boat crash last summer on Lake George that claimed the life of an 8-year-old girl and severely injured her mother. Since the collision last July, authorities have expressed an interesting in ending the annual celebration held the same day, which West attended. WAMC’s Southern Adirondack Bureau Chief Lucas Willard reports.
Log Bay Day is an unofficial annual tradition without a formal organizer held on the last Monday in July. But last year’s party, which saw hundreds of boats in the shallow bay across the lake from Bolton Landing, may have been its last.
That night, police say, a boat piloted by Alexander West struck a wooden vessel carrying 8-year-old Charlotte McCue. The girl was killed and her mother was injured.
This week the defense called its final witnesses in West’s trial. Witnesses have testified that West spent the day consuming drugs, including hash oil and cocaine, as well as alcohol at the Log Bay party.
At the time of the initial investigation, Warren County Sheriff Bud York told NewsChannel 13 that he would seek an end to the event.
“If Log Bay Day played any part in this little girl getting killed, absolutely, we need to end it,” said York.
The crash involving West’s boat was far from the only incident that day.
More than two dozen arrests and numerous injuries were reported, including one individual who broke his neck diving into the shallow bay. More than 50 tickets were handed out by police both on and off the lake.
Law enforcement officials say they will stop the event for good.
“It is a thing of the past. It will not occur on Lake George anymore.”
Lieutenant Joe Johns is Director of Law Enforcement with the Lake George Park Commission.
Johns says that over the past several months, the Park Commission has met with sheriff’s departments in Washington and Warren Counties, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, and state police.
A plan, he says, is in the works.
“We’re working on several safety initiatives. We’re working with the new marinas on Lake George. We’ve put together a video on all the renters that goes into different types of safety things. You know, keeping a proper lookout, the dangers of alcohol, what the buoys mean, things like that for the renters. We’re also going to increase the DWI patrols,” said Johns.
On any given day, Johns says between all the agencies that patrol the lake, eight to 10 boats are out. That number could potentially increase.
Officers are trained to recognize drunkenness or illegal substances during a routine stop.
“Any time during a stop the officer observes what’s in the boat and if there’s probable cause to go further, if there’s signs of drugs, that is always addressed,” said Johns.
West, if convicted on all charges, could face up to 22 years in prison. He did not testify before a judge Wednesday. The defense has reportedly rested. Closing arguments were set for Thursday.