BY NED CAMPBELL
NISKAYUNA — A Niskayuna man was charged with reckless operation of a vessel Aug. 28 after a motorboat filled with rowing students went partially under water, causing an 11-year-old girl to fall out and be hit by the still-moving boat, police said.
The girl, whose name and hometown were not released, suffered a “pretty severe leg laceration” and was taken by Niskayuna Fire District #1 ambulance to Albany Medical Center, Police Department Deputy Chief Michael Stevens said.
“We don’t know for sure what part of the boat got her,” he said.
She was in stable condition at the hospital after receiving surgery Friday afternoon, he said. Dave Davenport, president of Niskayuna Rowing, said the girl’s parents expected her to return home from the hospital Aug. 31.
“There’s not much we can say. From what the parents have told us, she’s recovering well,” he said. “She’s looking forward to going to school.”
William Lore, 22, had seven young passengers in the boat, which was traveling west on the river just east of the Rexford Bridge when the incident occurred around 11:20 a.m., police said. Lore and the passengers were part of a three-week Learn to Row program sponsored by Niskayuna Rowing, which was on its last day.
“They came into a no-wake zone and the operator went to slow the boat, and we believe due to the overweight of the boat, the front of the boat ended up partially submerging in water and ejected a couple passengers,” Stevens said.
Lore was given an appearance ticket on the misdemeanor charge, which he faces because too many were people in the boat, he said.
As many as five passengers were either fully or partially ejected from the boat, Stevens said. All of the boat’s passengers, who were around the same age as the 11-year-old victim, were believed to be wearing lifejackets, he said.
Stevens did not know why the seven kids were in the motorboat.
Davenport declined to comment on the incident other than to say that the organization would use all its resources to ensure its members’ safety.
“We’re tremendously sorry one of our rowers was hurt,” he said.
Police said Lore pulled the girl back onto the boat and brought her to the Niskayuna Rowing Club’s boat launch on Aqueduct Road, where responding paramedics began treatment. There were other boats out on the water as part of the Learn to Row program, and their operators helped the other girls who fell out of the boat, police said.
“I know he’s extremely upset about the incident,” Stevens said of Lore. “He did act quickly once the incident occurred to get her back onto the boat and get her to shore. I think he did the best he could with that. Obviously, the concern that we have as law enforcement is the fact that there were too many people on the boat and the weight limit for the boat was exceeded.”
Lt. Jason Temple, a member of the Schenectady County Sheriff’s new Marine Patrol, responded by vehicle and issued the ticket. He said the boat, a 1997 Polar metal skiff, allows for four passengers weighing up to 485 pounds.
“And also they had three people in the front of the boat,” he said. “That’s not allowed.”
Niskayuna police and Alplaus firefighters also responded.
Gazette Reporter Rebecca Isenhart contributed to this story.