The New York Daily News reports that over 200 people attended the memorial service held at the Quaker Meeting Hall Friday for Brooklyn Heights resident Alexandra Vitale, 3, who drowned during a boating safety lesson in Long Island Sound off of Westport, Connecticut on Tuesday.
New York Daily News: Friend, Family Mourn…: “She loved her daddy more than anything in the world,” the Brooklyn girl’s mother, Andrea, said through tears yesterday.
“She had the perfect life and was the perfect little girl and will always be remembered that way.”
And while the girl’s father, Dr. Michael Vitale, said his the incident that took his daughter’s life was nothing more than a “terrible accident”, Westport authorities are investigating the safety procedures of the boat’s operators, Long Shore Sailing School.
An experienced sailor interviewed by the Connecticut Post questioned the wisdom of allowing young children on the type of boat young Alexandra was riding on:
Connecticut Post: Sailors Question…: Doug Jones, of Milford, also knows a thing or two about sailing. He’s been sailing for at least 30 years. He’s the fleet captain of the Milford Yacht Club and responsible for their Junior Sailing instructional program. And he’s the parent of two sailing youngsters.
Speaking as a parent, Jones said he would not have allowed either of his children, when they were 3 years old, to sail on a Hobie Cat.”The Hobie Cat is a fun boat, but it’s a performance boat,” he said. “I would not put a novice on a Hobie Cat.”
He prefers the Optimist, a boat where a child sits inside, for beginners rather than the Hobie Cat which requires passengers to sit on a trampoline-type center span.
“When my kids were 4, I took them out on 25- to 30-foot boats but I would not have brought them out on a smaller boat,” said Jones. Jones said the Milford Yacht Club’s eight-week summer Junior Sailing instructional program requires children to be at least 8 years old and proficient swimmers before allowing them to enroll.