Dive team examines wreckage after Keuka Lake boat explosion

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HAMMONDSPORT, N.Y. (WETM) – Divers from the Steuben County Sheriff’s Office Navigation Division examined the wreckage from Saturday’s boat explosion on Keuka Lake.

The team took about 5 hours on Wednesday afternoon to dive 65 feet deep in 43 degree water to collect photo and video evidence of what’s left of the 1955 Century Coronado.

“We’re looking to recover all necessary evidence to conclude the investigation, part of that is locating the wreckage,” Steuben County Sheriff, Jim Allard, said.

Wreckage recovery, which is slated for the coming week, will be the next step in the investigation.

“When that’s done, we’ll be able to physically look at the engine and all the parts of the boat that may be in question as part of why it did catch on fire and explode,” Sheriff Allard said.

The Chief of the Hammondsport Fire Department said excessive fumes were most likely the culprit.

A boat blower is used to ventilate explosive fumes. The Chief said the 1955 Century Coronado either did not have the blower on or didn’t have one at all.

As a result, William and Carol Kistner of Batavia were injured after antique their boat exploded at the 37th annual Wine Country Classic Boat Show in Hammondsport.

William, 63, was treated at Ira Davenport Memorial Hospital for lacerations on his head.

His wife, 64, was airlifted to the burn unit at Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester for severe burns on her legs.

Carol was last listed in guarded condition at Strong Memorial Hospital.

Bystanders said the blast shot up more than a dozen feet and pushed debris close to the shore.

“I’d say stuff flew 30 to 40 feet in the air, I mean, just everything blew,” Donny Schneider of Williamsport Pa., who witnessed the blast, said.

Schneider recalled the panic at the scene moments after the explosion.

“I’m sure people wanted to go into help, but they needed to stay back so they could get it out,” Schneider said. “It was pretty somber after it went, everybody’s worried.”

The boat show wrapped up early as the fire departments, State Police and the Steuben County Sheriff’s Office picked up the pieces.

Sheriff Allard said the public should pay attention to their boats and brush up on boater safety.

“Know your boat, know what’s going on with it, if it’s acting in a way that’s not normal for its operation, be suspicious,” Sheriff Allard said.

Knowing your boat and how it runs can go a long way, a way that could diverge a tragic incident like this from happening again.

For more information on boater safety, click here.

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