Photos from the scene
Sylvan Beach (WSYR-TV) - Investigators are still trying to figure out what caused a tragic boating accident that killed a father and his two sons five miles off the shore of Sylvan Beach late Thursday night.
A lot of unanswered questions remain, like: Was the boat speeding? Was alcohol a factor? Who was driving the boat? and Was it functioning properly?
It will take special equipment to pull the sunken boat ashore, but investigators say once they do, it’ll provide additional clues as to what happened after the craft crashed into a concrete channel marker near Messenger Shoals on Oneida Lake.
Lt. James McCarthy, with the Oneida County Sheriff's Office says, "It's a very difficult investigation for us, I mean any evidence on land is still there, but on water..it's gone..it's sunk."
Boaters say the accident is a sad reminder of just how dangerous that particular part of Oneida Lake is. They say it's tricky to navigate because it's shallow and rocky.
One boater we spoke with said, “It’s pitch black out there. Even if you have headlights on the boat it’s hard to see those, they come up on you quick. We’re very hesitant to go out at night.”
A flashing light sits atop the concrete channel marker to warn boaters to stay away, but boaters say it’s sometimes hard to see and it can blend in.
Boater Kathy Pazaras, who witnessed the rescue effort, told NewsChannel 9, “The lake is big and deep and dangerous, you never know, the lake can turn in an instant around here. It can be sunny, calm and it’s like jello one minute and the next minute you have four footers out there.”
The Oneida County Sheriff's Office has identified the three men whose bodies were recovered, as well as one man who was rescued.
On Friday morning, dive teams located the bodies of a father, 66-year-old Anthony Aceto, of Utica, along with two of his sons, 41-year-old Stephen Aceto, of Tampa, and 33-year-old Timothy Aceto, of Deerfield.
A third son, Anthony J. Aceto, of Whitesboro, was rescued by a passing fisherman who contacted 911 shortly after the craft crashed.
The accident occurred around 10:45 p.m. on Thursday. The bodies were recovered around 7:45 a.m. by a State Police Dive Team. The bodies were turned over to the Oneida County Sheriff's Office.
The sheriff's office says none of the men were wearing life jackets. The Coast Guard says in 87 percent of boating fatalities the victim isn’t wearing a life jacket.Crews from Onondaga, Oneida, Oswego, and Madison counties; as well as Air 1, were called in to assist with the search and rescue operation overnight.