By Andrew Wroblewski
A 12-year-old Greenlawn boy died Tuesday afternoon after a sailing lesson ended in a terrible accident, according to local authorities.
The boy, Ryan John Weiss, was one of three students, each wearing life jackets, participating in a lesson on the water near the Centerport Yacht Club at around 3 p.m., police said.
As a controlled part of the lesson, the students’ sailboat was capsized.
Two of the students returned to the vessel while Weiss remained in the water. He was then picked up by an 18-year-old instructor operating an inflatable Zodiac boat, Suffolk Police Det. Sgt. James Scimone said during a press conference Tuesday evening.
Weiss, who was seated on the side of the boat, fell into the water when the instructor accelerated the boat, police said.
“He became entangled in the propeller, causing massive injuries to the chest,” Scimone said. It all unfolded in “a matter of seconds.”
The instructor immediately entered the water to help Weiss, and was aided by another instructor who helped him pull Weiss onto another boat. The instructors began CPR.
The instructors brought Weiss back to shore and other EMTs assisted until a paramedic from the Centerport Fire Department responded, police said. Weiss was brought to Huntington Hospital, where he died from his injuries.
One of the instructors “was in shock, upset” and treated at Huntington Hospital, Scimone said. The other children did not receive medical aid.
“We’re investigating this strictly as an accident… Nobody is at fault. The instructor is a young instructor and he was doing everything he was taught to do,” Scimone said. “A terrible accident happened today.”
Visitation was held Thursday at M.A. Connell Funeral Home. A funeral Mass is scheduled for 10 a.m., Friday at Our Lady Queen of Martyrs R.C. Church in Centerport.
Weiss' family has requested that memorial contributions be made to the Ryan John Weiss Memorial Fund, which will be created at a later date, according to an obituary on the funeral home's website.
Centerport Yacht Club Commodore Joseph Scarpulla addressed the incident in a statement posted to the yacht club’s website Wednesday afternoon.
“We are devastated by the loss of one of our young members in a tragic boating accident during our Junior Sailing program,” he stated. “The deepest sympathy and prayers of all of Centerport Yacht Club’s officers, staff and fellow members go out to his family at this incredibly difficult time. The entire local and sailing communities grieve with them.”
Across Northport Harbor from the yacht club, Seymour’s Boatyard lowered its flag to half-mast after the news broke. A picture of the flag was posted to the boatyard’s Facebook page and generated more than 100 comments of support and prayers.
The post read, “As the sun sets on Northport Harbor please keep the Centerport Yacht Club and its members in your thoughts and prayers.
“Know that on Northport Harbor we are all family and are here for you.”
The Northport Village Police Department reposted the picture on its Instagram account. The photo caption stated that Weiss was from Greenlawn.
It further stated, “Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends as well as everyone else involved in this tragic accident.”
Editor's note: This story was updated at 9:50 p.m., July 20 with the identity of the victim.