Two miles and an ocean of tears separated the funerals Tuesday of two innocent children who drowned when the boat they were watching Fourth of July fireworks from suddenly sank in Oyster Bay.
Their faces grim, the father and brother of 7-year-old Victoria Gaines helped heft her small white casket into the Church of St. Patrick in Huntington, L.I.
Paul and Ryan Gaines were following by the girl’s weeping mother, Lisa, who carried a framed photo of her dead daughter.
The Rev. Thomas Tuite noted that Victoria recently had her First Communion there and that her name is still on the banner hanging at the back of the church.
Calling her “our Victoria,” the priest tried to comfort her parents.
“If there was a magic wand that we could all be waving over your heads to make these days go away, we’d all be up here passing that wand over your heads,” he said.
When the service was over, Lisa Gaines still was unable to speak of her daughter in the past tense.
“She is an amazing child and I’m so thankful that she got to share her very full eight years with all of you,” she said. “And I need all of your memories to get us through this.”
Victoria’s dad, who had been stoic until then, succumbed to his own anguish as he spoke of his lost little girl.
“Victoria was always so strong,” he said, breaking down in tears. “She’s my little angel now.”
A short drive away, more than 100 mourners packed the M.A. Connell Funeral Home in Huntington to say goodbye to 11-year-old Harlie Treanor. Her dad, Kevin, owns the doomed Kandi Won.
“She was just a sweet child,” said Dawn Heller, her elementary school music teacher. “She excelled at academics and band. She was a very happy child. She loved softball.”
Harlie’s death hit her former classmates at the Bowling Green School in Westbury, L.I., hard — especially the dozen or so who came to the funeral, she added.
“I saw her grow up from first grade to fifth grade and she just graduated,” she said. “I feel bad for the children who went to school with her.”
A third child drowned when the 34-foot yacht capsized on Independence Day — Harlie’s cousin, David Aureliano, 12. His funeral was on Monday.
While the tears flowed, the first attempt to raise the boat — which has been sitting 60 feet below the surface since it sank — was stymied by poor visibility.
Their plan was to affix netting to the boat and then attach airbags and raise the powerboat by inflating them.
Officials said they would try again Wednesday.
Twenty-seven people were aboard the craft when it sank and the three kids were trapped in the cabin.
Police and FBI investigators hope the craft will provide clues about what caused it to go under. They also intend to count life jackets, to make sure there was one for every passenger as the law requires.
Aureliano’s uncle, Sal, who was at the helm of the craft, insists a rogue wave from an approaching storm knocked the vessel over.
Police, however, say the boat had twice as many people aboard as the specs allow.
So far nobody has been charged with a crime.
With Matthew Lysiak
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