National Transportation Safety Board
Office of Public Affairs
Washington, DC -- On October 2, the National Transportation Safety Board dispatched a team of investigators to the scene of the capsizing of the vessel Ethan Allen at Lake George, New York. Twenty passengers died in the accident. The following is an update of factual information collected by the Safety Board's team.
Cummins Inc., the manufacturer of the engine on the Ethan Allen, was offered and they have accepted party status. Cummins will provide expertise during the fact- finding portion of the investigation. They will provide technical input regarding the engine and will participate in the testing of engine components.
No toxicology testing was performed by local law enforcement immediately following the accident. The vessel master voluntarily provided samples for the NTSB for toxicology testing approximately 46 hours following the accident. Those samples were negative for alcohol and all drugs tested by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Civil Aerospace Medical Institute (CAMI) toxicology laboratory. The FAA-CAMI laboratory sent specimens to Northwest Toxicology, a commercial laboratory, for testing for urine ethanol glucuronide (EtG, ametabolite of ethanol). That testing was positive for urine EtG at a level of 5330 ng/mL. According to Northwest Toxicology, urine EtG testing can confirm the consumption of alcohol up to 80 hours after its elimination from the body. The master told Safety Board investigators that he had ingested alcohol the night before the accident, within 80 hours prior to the sample collection.
The investigative team continued to interview witnesses and passengers after returning to the Washington, D.C. headquarters. The team continues to compile data for a stability analysis of the vessel, including information related to all post-construction alterations to the vessel that may have had an impact on stability. The Safety Board has not reached any conclusions about the cause of the sinking of the vessel.
NTSB Media Contact:
Terry N. Williams
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is an independent federal agency charged with determining the probable cause
of transportation accidents, promoting transportation safety, and assisting victims of transportation accidents and their families.