The families of the two people killed on July 26, Mark Lennon and Lindsey Stewart, have added their voices with an open letter to the public released Wednesday. Read more on their statement here.
Nyack Mayor Jen Laird-White confirmed that she did receive an email from a resident familiar with the river who was concerned about the lighting of the construction barges earlier in July.
"Yes, we did receive the complaint and forwarded it instantly to the appropriate people on the state level," White said.
Patch acquired a copy of the related correspondence by filing a FOIL (Freedom of Information Law) request with the Village of Nyack. A Nyack resident who is a member of the Hook Mountain Yacht Club in Nyack sent an email to White that she forwarded to Brain Conybeare, Special Adviser for the Tappan Zee Bridge to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, early in the morning July 8.
The Nyack resident wrote that he had observed the barges with no lights at night and that he thought "there is potential for collisions with speed boats, jet skiis and even sailboats." He suggested that the boats have lights at night, citing the high level of boat traffic on the Hudson River during the summer.
The Nyack resident emailed White again shortly after 6 a.m. July 26, mere hours before the accident. He said he had spoken with Carla Julian of Tappan Zee Constructors, LLC about his concerns, stating that he and other sailors felt that the barges did not have enough lighting and would not be seen at night. White also forwarded that email to Conybeare shortly after it was received.
_______Boat Accident Victim Lennon's Funeral Set for Friday
Funeral Arrangements Set for Boating Accident Victim Stewart
Boating Accident Victims Died of Drowning, Officials Report
New York State Thruway Authority Director of Media Relations and Communications Dan Weiller said they had received one complaint and followed up on it at that time, confirming with Tappan Zee Construtors that the lighting met federal requirements.
“The U.S. Coast Guard made it clear that the lights on the barge met all requirements and were visible for one nautical mile but, as an added precaution, extra lights were added immediately following this tragedy because we wanted to go above and beyond to try and prevent something like this from happening again," Weiller said in a statement released Wednesday.
According to the NYS Thruway Authority release, there are approximately two dozen barges in the Hudson River as part of the New Tappan Zee Bridge project, though that number changes daily. The barges are in fixed locations at night, when the accident occurred, but are often moved during the day.
They also included a map with temporary barge locations which is attached to this report. The barge location involved in the accident is marked "2S."
Earlier this week, Coast Guard spokesman Charles Rowe said that the barge operators "played no negligent role" in the accident.
"What we determined was that the barge was lit in accordance with federal regulations," Rowe said. "The barge was where it was supposed to be, in the declared safety zone."
A New York Post report by Sleepy Hollow resident Lois Weiss called the situation an "accident waiting to happen." One factor she cited was boaters who might be drinking.
The operator of the boat, Jojo John of Nyack, has been charged with one count of vehicular manslaughter in the first degree, and three counts of vehicular assault in the third degree, all felonies. Officials with the Rockland County Sheriff's department said they suspect he was intoxicated.