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Coast Guard Looks at Passenger Weight Guidelines

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The captain of the Ethan Allen, 74-year-old Richard Paris, gave a blood sample voluntarily earlier this week. Full results of yesterday's tests by the National Transportation Saftey Board won't be available for months. The preliminary report added to mounting evidence that the Ethan Allen may have been top-heavy before it capsized Sunday afternoon. Eyewitness Joyce Cloutier, from Loudonville, told an Albany TV station that the Ethan Allen appeared "extremely unstable" as Paris struggled to keep it upright while making a right-hand turn. Cloutier says passengers started toppling to one side of the boat, which then capsized. She watched the accident from another boat about fifty yards away. Cloutier's voice was heard on a 9-1-1 tape released Tuesday.

U.S. Coast guard officials say they've begun rethinking the weight calculations that determine how many passengers a boat can carry safely. The tour boat on Lake George isn't governed directly by the Coast Guard rules, but safety recommendations influence state guidelines. The rules would also affect boats operating on the St. Lawrence River and Lake Champlain. Brian Mann spoke with Coast Guard spokeswoman Angela McArdle, who says expanding waistlines may force a change in standards.

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Reported by

Brian Mann
Adirondack Bureau Chief

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