I always return to the screams.

If you have ever been out on Lake George at night, you know how quiet it can be. You know that feeling of solitude, peacefulness.

So when Alexander West’s boat roared out of the shadows on the night of July 25, 2016, careening over the top of another boat, maiming and killing 8-year-old Charlotte McCue, there was a brief period of silence as both boats stalled in the water, followed Immediately by screams piercing the night.

Matthew J. Marry and Kristine C. Tiger were both riding in West’s boat.

They must have heard the screams.

They must have known that something terribly bad had happened.

We still do not know what happened next inside West’s boat, except that it left the scene and made its way to shore.

They ran.

A passenger was later overheard on shore telling the others not to say anything to anyone.

Don’t text, email or communicate in any way. The screams did not matter.

The horror did not impact them at all.

Their concern was for themselves, and not being held responsible.

On Thursday, Marry and Tiger both pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges of hindering prosecution. They agreed to serve 45 days in the Warren County jail — they could have gotten up to a year — followed by three years probation.

The plea deal disturbs me, because in some ways, what the passengers did that night was worse than what West did.

It was premeditated, selfish and a showed at its core a simple lack of morality, of humanity and that is unacceptable.

How to you punish someone for not having a heart or a conscience?

Whlie West was held responsible for the death of the little girl, and is now serving time in state prison, I remain haunted by the inaction of the four passengers.

Their lack of culpability as accessories to this tragedy.

Their refusal to acknowledge what happened.

Their inability to offer help out on the water, take responsibility for their actions and turn themselves into the authorities afterward.

Their cowardice.

And their ease in returning to a life with little redeeming value.

While many people would be traumatized, perhaps scared straight by the horror of the screams that night, both Marry and Tiger were arrested again this past spring on misdemeanor drug charges.

Their attempted cover-up that night on the lake was a crime against humanity, because they did not show any.

Sadly, the medical community does not offer transplants to make you human.

I doubt more jail time, or a large fine will change them either. But I wonder if the judge could add one final caveat to the sentencing agreement.

For the rest of their lives, the screensaver on any electronic device in their possession must include the photo of Charlotte McCue’s lifeless body.

Ken Tingley is editor of The Post-Star and may be reached via email at tingley@poststar.com.

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