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Emails from concerned boater warned authorities of poor lighting on Hudson barges

NYACK - A seasoned boater says the deadly boat crash on the Hudson River could have been prevented if a barge had been better lit.

News 12 has obtained two emails from boater Michael Hortens expressing his concern about poor lighting on those barges on the Hudson. One of those emails was sent just a few hours before the accident last Friday night.

The boat, carrying six passengers, collided into a barge on Friday evening, resulting in the deaths of two of its passengers. Survivors of the boat crash reportedly did not know what they rammed into immediately following the accident.

Hortens, of Nyack, has been sailing along the Hudson River for seven years, and on July 7, he emailed Village Mayor Jen White complaining about the lighting on the barges, saying it created dangerous conditions for boaters. "Because these barges have no lights at night, I think there is the potential for collisions with speedboats, Jet Skis and even sailboats. One remedy is for the barges to have lights at night," he says.

White forwarded the message to the state and the U.S. Coast Guard sent out its weekly notice to mariners Thursday, highlighting the issue.

Hortens sent a second email to White on July 26, just four hours before the tragedy happened. In it, he said he spoke to Carla Julian, the spokesperson for Tappan Zee Constructors, the group building the new span. "She said she had spoken with her construction managers and they were attending to it....I hope the bridge contractors act in a responsible way."

The U.S. Coast Guard says it found that the lighting on the barge was in compliance at the time of the accident. Additional lights have been added since the deadly crash.

Attorney Nicholas Warywoda represents Daniel Dilorgi, one of the survivors of the deadly boat crash. He says his client is still recovering from injuries to his face and legs, as well as trying to deal with the loss.

Warywoda says toxicology results won't be back for some time and that the accusation that the speedboat driver was drunk was a rush to judgement. He says accountability could lie with the state.

Both the Thruway Authority in Tarrytown and Tappan Zee Constructors declined to comment on the situation.

The state did release a statement late Friday. "Our hearts and prayers go out to the victims of this tragic accident and their families during this incredibly difficult time. While the criminal investigation is ongoing, we have been asked not to comment any further, but the U.S. Coast Guard made it clear that the lights on the barges met the requirements and were visible for 1 nautical mile. As an added precaution, extra lights were added by Tappan Zee Constructors immediately following this tragedy to go above and beyond the federal requirements to and add further protection against something like this happening again."

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