One of the survivor's grand daughters has this to say about the Ethan Allen tragedy:
My Grandmother, Joyce Rochowiak, was one of the victims of the Ethan Allen tragedy. Where does the blame lie? I believe it lies with all entities involved: Shoreline Cruises, the New York Department of Parks & Recreation, and the captain,Richard Paris. Not one of these entities questioned the vessel's buoyancy (which Mr. Paris has admitted to being insufficient on previous outings on National News), or the lack of safety precautions (no dockside safety briefing, lack of crewmen, and a NY state law system that doesn't deem it necessary for senior citizens to wear life jackets). Should we overlook these facts because this was an "accident"? I don't believe so. While nothing can be done or said to bring my Grandmother back, she need not have died in vain. Somebody or some entity needs to be held responsible for an enormous tragedy and the resulting heartache that could have been prevented in so many small ways.
Isn't that the point? If responsibility is not assumed or assigned, then many family members will believe that their loved one did, in fact, die in vein. There is only one way in which responsibility can and will be assigned, and that is through the civil court system.
Many citizens think that lawsuit are about money. For most litigants, nothing could be further from the truth. No one would trade a parent, grand parent or loved one for any sum of money. Lawsuits, however, have the unique ability to force a defendant who refuses to take responsibility to sit in front of a jury of their peers. That jury has the ability to clear them of blame, or point the finger of justice at them and say in a loud collective voice: "You are responsible; You must make changes." The fact that jurors award money damages is in our civil justice system is appropriate. What else would suffice? Would we rather send these people to jail for negligence?
Our jury system remains the only meaningful, definitive and emphatic voice which can assign responsibility to those whose actions cause needless deaths. Since neither Shoreline company, the boat captain, nor anyone else has accepted responsibility for this needless tragedy, the jury system will have the final word.