Note: The age of victim Charlotte McCue was corrected.
LAKE GEORGE — An 8-year-old California girl was killed and her mother hurt Monday night in a hit-and-run boat collision on Lake George, and police believe the boat that left the scene contained a group that had been at the Log Bay Day party on the lake earlier in the day.
The girl was identified as Charlotte M. McCue of Carlsbad, California. She was visiting the area with family, and her grandfather was piloting the boat that she was on.
Warren County Sheriff Bud York said McCue was killed and her mother, whose name was not released, suffered non-life-threatening injuries but was admitted to Glens Falls Hospital. The boat that hit McCue crossed her family's boat in the center. The girl's parents, two siblings and grandparents were also on the boat.
"She (the mother) was sitting next to her daughter," York said. "One boat just went right over the other."
McCue was pronounced dead at the scene, having suffered severe head and upper torso injuries from the boat passing over her.
Investigators from the Sheriff's Office, State Police, Glens Falls Police and Hudson Falls Police were working to determine whether alcohol was a factor in the crash for the boat operator who fled the crash scene.
That operator was identified by police as Alexander W. West, 24, of Lockhart Mountain Road, Lake George. No charges had been filed against him as of late Tuesday, but York said charges are likely once the investigation was done because police believe he and others in his boat knew they hit another boat but did not call for help or report the collision.
A blood sample was taken from West to be tested for possible drug and alcohol use. There were no indication's McCue's grandfather was impaired, York said.
Police were looking to talk to anyone who saw West or was with him and his friends at Log Bay Day on Monday, York said. Anyone with information in the case was asked to call the Sheriff's Office at 743-2500.
West would not discuss the case Tuesday afternoon as he left the Sheriff's Office to get in a waiting Mercedes-Benz sedan.
The collision happened just before 9:25 p.m. near Cramer Point. Police said the boat McCue was on was turning into the bay near Cramer Point when another boat traveling at a high speed collided with it.
The boat that went over the top did not stop, despite part of its propeller being torn off and both craft suffering other obvious damage. Police located a damaged boat later Monday night at Tea Island Resort on the south end of the lake, but no one was initially with it. A witness saw it pull into the docks and five people get off of it around 9:30, police said.
The passengers were located later Monday, and West went to the Sheriff's Office around 9 a.m. Tuesday to be questioned and to give a blood sample.
A woman who answered the phone at the resort Tuesday morning said the boaters were not guests of the business.
"They just randomly pulled up to one of our docks and got out," she said, not giving her name.
York said the boat is owned by West's father, and was normally docked elsewhere on the lake. West and his friends, whose names weren't released, didn't call to report the accident, one of them instead phoning a friend for a ride away from Route 9N after they abandoned the boat.
The locations of the boats at the time of the crash, and their speeds and whether navigation lights were being used, was still under investigation later Tuesday.
There were seven people in the 28-foot wooden boat carrying the girl who died, and West and four friends in the other boat, a 21-foot Larson powerboat.
"We have identified everyone in the victims' boat and everyone in the boat that hit the victims' boat," the sheriff said.
Both boats were damaged but neither sank.
York called the death a "heartbreaking" tragedy.
Investigators are trying to figure out how the facts fit into state Navigation Law, which puts different responsibilities on boat operators than drivers of vehicles on roads. Sheriff's officers were working with the Warren County District Attorney's Office, York said.
District Attorney Kate Hogan said she had no comment on a timetable for potential charges.
A person who leaves the scene of an accident where a death occurs can be charged with leaving the scene of a fatal accident, a felony, as well as any applicable homicide counts.
York said those involved have been cooperative with investigators, though West had retained the services of the Glens Falls law firm Fitzgerald Morris Baker Firth. John Aspland, a principal in the firm, said the firm "made initial contact with police on behalf of Mr. West."
"It's a tragic situation and we are looking into the facts to try to determine what happened," Aspland said.
York said the investigation was continuing Tuesday, as investigators tried to track down people who West was with earlier Monday.
He would not say what the occupants of the boat that left the scene told police, and said it was unclear whether the passengers on West's boat could be charged.
"If it were up to me, we would charge everybody (on West's boat), but we want to make sure it is done right," the sheriff said. "I want the people of Warren County to know we will get to the bottom of this."
Numerous rescue squads, the Lake George Park Commission and Lake George Fire Department responded. A Park Commission patrol boat was first on scene, but the investigation was turned over to the Sheriff's Office when it became clear that a fatality occurred. Park Commission officers are peace officers and have limited law enforcement powers.
The Sheriff's Office website showed the accident as reported in front of 41 Cramer Point Road. Residents of the quiet lakeside road said they heard and saw an ambulance pull into the neighborhood Monday night, but did not hear any crash or extensive police activity.
Cramer Point is the area of the lake where the Ethan Allen tour boat sunk in October 2005, killing 20 passengers.
The last fatal boating collision on the lake occurred in 2014, when a Bolton man drove into shore in Basin Bay, killing himself. The lake has been the site of a number of drownings since then, most recently when a fisherman drowned in Hague in April.
Log Bay Day, the annual party on Lake George's east shore near Shelving Rock, is a large gathering of boats on the lake and people on shore to party. It is held the last Monday of July each summer.