Memorial Service for Brooklyn Heights Girl Killed in Boating Accident

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.

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  • leslie mcnamara

    How were these foolish parents able to convince the school to take these children out? I’d think that even if thechilds own parents don’t seek their welfare, the instructers and school should know better.

  • georgia m.

    What parents with common sense would allow their 3 year old to have sailing lessons on such choppy waters ? Is that neccesary? Something is telling me that bragging about “summer sailing lessons” to the other parents, on the first day of pre-k, sounded appealing to the parents and so cute….how sad and tragic and so preventable was this accident… RIP

  • Robby

    3 year old getting sailing lessons????????????????????? Why? Swimming lessons, yes. Sailing lessons? Give me a break. I agree with georgia- I guess it was something to brag about.

  • sad news

    This is terribly sad. I also read that the instructor of the boat was an 18 year-old (probably doing a summer job). All parties involved were wearing life jackets. At least one of the parents MUST have been present to permit or “persuade” the 18 year old to take the children out, which is probably why the family has dismissed the Yatch Club of any blame.

  • anon

    a child from our community has died and her parents are obviously suffering; do you all really think it necessary to criticize these poor people when you no nothing about them or the specifics of the tragic situation? Im disgusted.

  • Stan

    Well said anon.

  • soulman

    To Leslie, Georgia & Robert:

    What small-minded, narrow and unhappy people you must be to ascribe these motives to people you don’t know. This is real, not the plot of some moronic reality show. These are young parents who lost a treasured gem of a child. Don’t you have any flicker of humanity in those feeble intellects of yours?

    It’s reprehensible to criticize people you don’t know based on a couple of brief (and not entirely accurate) newspaper stories, ascribing motives to them that don’t faintly reflect reality. “Bragging rights” – what’s being revealed about the pathetic personalities of individuals who jump to this conclusion? I hope the families and friends affected by this tragedy never see your vile remarks.

  • nazimova

    AMEN SOULMAN!!!!These people lost a 3year old ..
    Keep your comments and opinions to yourself ..

  • AB

    Sanctimony and condemnation will not bring this little girl back. Her parents will forever regret their decision, and the young woman who was skippering the boat will never be the same. This is a tragedy.

    So I nominate Leslie McNamara and Georgia M for the Keith Olberman “worst people in the world” award for today. Any seconds?