GREENWICH, Conn. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Police have identified the 16-year-old Greenwich High School student killed in a boating accident that also seriously injured another 16-year-old girl.
Greenwich police say Emily Fedorko died Wednesday after she was struck by the propeller of a boat towing her and the other girl who were tubing. Two other girls, also 16, were operating the boat.
The injured girl, who was not identified, had a soft-tissue leg wound that required extensive stitching. Her injuries were not life-threatening.
The girls were boating on the Long Island Sound on Wednesday afternoon near the Old Greenwich Yacht Club, with two of them being towed in the inner tube, authorities said. Both girls fell off the tube, and the two girls onboard steered to pick them up, officials said. Then, as CBS 2’s Tracee Carrasco reported, the girls were hit by the boat’s propeller.
“I just heard some screaming, like ‘help, help,'” one witness told CBS 2’s Janelle Burrell.
“Lots of ambulances pulled into this harbor,” another witness said. “I don’t know, it’s kind of scary, honestly.”
Greenwich police Chief Jim Heavey said the girl operating the boat was licensed, WCBS 880’s Sean Adams reported.
As Champion reported, in Connecticut, people 13 and older have to get a safe boating certificate to get on the water.
“It’s classroom training, some of the courses may have hands-on training, these are some of the things we’re looking into as part of the investigation, reconstruction,” Capt. Raul Comejo of the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection told CBS 2.
Police have confirmed the boat belongs to the father of one of the girls involved. Alcohol is not believed to have played a role.
Investigators are now in the process of recreating the accident, CBS 2’s Don Champion reported.
“Part of the investigation will determine how long they were out there, when they left, where they left from, just like a motor vehicle accident,” Heavey said.
They have already interviewed the two teens on the boat, including Sabrina Thurber, who tweeted Wednesday: “Still can’t believe what I witnessed today, you will never leave my heart and I will miss you forever.”
Still cant believe what I witnessed today, you will never leave my heart and I will miss you forever.—
Sabrina Thurber (@sabrina_thurber) August 07, 2014
All four girls involved in the accident were students at Greenwich High School. Schools Superintendent William McKersie said Thursday he has assembled a team of 20 mental health professionals to counsel the grieving.
“It’s not just the next couple of days, but it’s the next several months,” McKersie said. “As Greenwich High School opens it doors in a couple of weeks, we need to be ready to provide all kinds of support to our students.
“This loss hits us all deeply, and we want to be there for these families,” added McKersie, who described Fedorko as vibrant, athletic, involved and loved.
“She was really nice to me, she’s was sort of like a sister,” Jason Otis said, a freshman at Greenwich High School.
Otis told CBS 2 his sister was supposed to go out on the water with the four girls.
“Thankfully, the owner of the boat’s daughter said they didn’t have enough room so they didn’t go on it,” Otis said.
The accident struck at the heart of Greenwich and sent rippling waves of grief across the community.
“Our heart aches for this family,” said Greenwich First Selectman Peter Tesei. “There’s nothing more one can say. It’s just a profound loss of a promising life, and the hearts of the Greenwich community go out to them.”
Jason Otis said that his sister was supposed to be out on the water with the girls.
“The owner of the boat’s daughter said they didn’t have enough room, so they didn’t get on it,” he explained.
“I don’t think there is any greater tragedy for a family than to lose a child at 16 years old in a simple boating accident, on a day in which it’s a beautiful day where they are looking to have a little fun,” Greenwich police Lt. Kraig Gray said Wednesday.
“You’ve got to cherish every moment you have with everyone you’re with all the time,” said Matthew Lanagan, a Greenwich High School senior. “Never know when it could happen.”
As CBS 2 reported, investigators won’t say how long the teen operator of the boat had been certified and are asking for any other witnesses to the accident to come forward.