A 16-year-old girl was killed in a tubing accident off Greenwich Point Wednesday afternoon, and another teenage girl was seriously injured in what was called Greenwich's first boating fatality in more than 20 years.
The teenagers were speeding atop the waters of Greenwich Cove, riding on a tube when the boat pulling them suddenly stopped, causing the riders to crash into the boat's propeller.
"It's a tragic sequence of events," said Greenwich Police Lt. Kraig Gray. "The girls were out having a good time."
There were two other teenage girls on the boat at the time, including the driver.
The lazy summer weekday at the point was blown away shortly after 2 p.m. as police and emergency personnel sped through the gate toward the Old Greenwich Yacht Club.
"Our launch driver heard the screams, so he went out to investigate and found the girls in the water," said Tom Drake, the club's commodore. "He was the first responder. He's the one who called 911. He brought them back to the dock."
Onlookers gathered to check out the commotion saw police bring a bright yellow tube onto the dock, and paramedics working feverishly. But none of the responders' efforts could save the girl, who was pronounced dead at the scene. A Greenwich Emergency Medical Service ambulance that sped away took the injured girl to Stamford Hospital. Her injuries were serious, but not considered life-threatening.
Authorities Wednesday would not confirm the name of the deceased -- who was about to enter her junior year at Greenwich High School. Police stationed outside her family's house on a lane in Old Greenwich would not allow reporters onto the property and told them to leave the private road.
But word soon got out and spread through town and friends took to social social media to share their sudden grief.
"How do you morn a life that hasn't begun yet," wrote one, "16 years is not nearly enough."
Exchanges on Twitter were rapid and heartfelt:
"I could not be in more shock, I love u so much"
"You always made everyone smile on stage!"
"rest in peace gorgeous, you wont be forgotten"
The accident is the first boating fatality in Greenwich waters in more than 20 years, said Greenwich Harbor Master Ian MacMillan.
"It's absolutely horrific and tragic," he said. "It's personally my worst nightmare.
"Boating is a rare treat. We don't do it every day, but when we do, there are dangers out there that we're not used to and present themselves in unique ways."
Police said the reason the boat stopped remained uncertain Wednesday. They and the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection will conduct the accident investigation.
Gray said he did not know whether the girl who was driving the boat had the necessary permitting. He added that he did not believe there was "any indication" of alcohol playing a role in the tragedy.
Town officials yesterday expressed their sympathy for the family of the victim.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with her family at this time of tragedy," Superintendent of Schools William McKersie said in a statement. "There are few words that can express the deep compassion we feel for the family of the young girl who has died and for the three other girls involved in the accident. The Greenwich public school community is ready to support the girls involved and their families in every way possible."
"Today's tragedy has resulted in profound sadness; no words would ever come close to expressing how this young girl's family must be feeling," Selectman Drew Marzullo, who responded to the scene as a paramedic, said later in a statement.
"My thoughts and prayers are with them."
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Justin Pottle contributed to this report