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Family breakfast preceded deadly tragedy in capsized boat on NYC Hudson River: 'Never imagined what ended up happening' – New York Daily News

The group of 13 relatives, some visiting from Colombia and Miami, gathered for a New Jersey breakfast before heading for a chartered boat ride on the Hudson River.

Family friend Albeiro Orozco recalled giving 7-year-old Julian Vasquez a lollipop as the crew departed his Elizabeth, N.J., restaurant for their Tuesday adventure. The youngster, along with fellow passenger Lindelia Vasquez, 47, died less than three hours later after their boat capsized in a horrifying mishap that left two others relatives in critical condition.

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“We never imagined what ended up happening,” said Orozco, the owner of local eatery Brisas. “This visit to New York ended in tragedy. It’s very sad.”

Investigators believed the private 27-foot vessel was overloaded, and police sources said the wake from a passing ferry sent passengers scurrying to the opposite side of the craft — making it easier for the boat to flip over and dump the family members into the river, a source told the Daily News.

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Orozco said Lindelia Vasquez was eager to show her visitors the Big Apple with a view from the Hudson when they headed out.

According to Orozco, a friend had volunteered to take the family members for a boat ride on a lake near the Pennsylvania border. But Lindelia was insistent about the trip along the Hudson.

“I don’t know who took them to the river, because it’s really big,” he said. “They didn’t have any (boating) experience. It’s different to go to a small lake than to go to a river like the Hudson.”

A small craft advisory, typically issued by the National Weather Service for winds creating dangerous conditions, was also in effect at the time of the deadly accident, the U.S. Coast Guard said in a Wednesday statement.

“The whole community is sad,” said Orozco, a longtime friend of Vasquez after both immigrated decades ago from Colombia to Elizabeth. “This really hurts me, because it’s a community that’s been here many years and we’re a family.”

The owner of the boat was trailing behind the group on a jet ski when the tragedy occurred about 12:45 p.m.

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A pair of NY Waterway ferries — the Garden State and the John Stevens — arrived quickly and crew rescued nine of the passengers from the river, a company spokesperson said.

Orozco said he learned about the deadly incident hours later when he turned on the television.

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Fire Department divers found both Lindelia and Julian in the water, and the two victims were pronounced dead at an area hospital. According to a source, the dead boy’s life vest became snagged in the debris under the boat and hampered him from reaching the surface.

FDNY diver Ryan Warnock recalled locating the boy, still wearing the vest, before a frantic and failed attempt to resuscitate him.

Photos of the accident’s aftermath showed survivors clasping their heads in disbelief and slumped in agony.

“We can’t stress enough how important it is to know your vessel’s limits and how to safely navigate the waters you are operating in,” Coast Guard Capt. Zeita Merchant said Wednesday. “We offer our deepest condolences to those affected by this tragic accident.”

With Rocco Parascandola

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