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Published: Monday, 5/11/2009

Judge dismisses a suit in Lake George tragedy


ALBANY, N.Y. - A federal judge has dismissed liability claims against the company that modified a tour boat that capsized on Lake George in 2005, killing 20 passengers.

U.S. District Judge Thomas McAvoy says there’s no evidence available about an old canvas and metal canopy once fitted on the Ethan Allen, so there’s no way to determine a replacement wooden canopy installed by Scarano Boat Building made the vessel unstable.

The boat had a capacity of 40 people and was used for tours on the Adirondack lake. The tragedy drew international attention.

Tour boat owner James Quirk settled claims last year. A separate suit pending against New York state faults its safety inspections. McAvoy issued his ruling Monday.

Six Toledo-area women died in the accident on Lake George.

Those killed were Wilma LeJeune, 78, of West Toledo, and Beverly Becker, 78; Virginia Ciesinski, 82; JoAnn Manore, 74; Joyce Rochowiak, 69, and Viola "Vi" Urbaniak, 89, all of Bedford Township.

The 40-foot Ethan Allen carried 47 passengers and the captain when it tipped over in clear, sunny weather on Oct. 2, 2005, sending screaming tourists into Lake George.

The women from the Toledo area were friends from the Bedford Senior Center who were on an autumn foliage tour of New York and Vermont organized by a Trenton, Mich., senior center.

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