LOCKPORT, N.Y. (WIVB) — Local, state and federal investigators are trying to piece together how a boat capsized Monday in the Lockport Cave, causing numerous people to fall into the water and for one man to lose his life.
Here’s the latest on what’s happening at the Lockport Cave. On Tuesday night, Lockport Police had concerns about electrical issues at the property and requested assistance from the city’s building department.
Lockport’s chief building inspector Jason Dool says when inspectors got on scene they found an electrical panel in the cave, with exposed wiring and electrical wiring that was underwater was also exposed and could’ve been dangerous.
All of the exposed wiring was found where visitors get on and off the boat ride. The decision was made to shut the business down.
Lockport officials then made a request to NYSEG to cut power to the property Wednesday morning. It will now be up to the property owner, Thomas Callaghan to make repairs.
News 4 heard from Lockport Common council member Paul Beakman about his concerns with the property.
“Now that we’re aware of potential problems, we’re working diligently to address everything, I think it was the absolute right move by our building inspections to have the operation shut down until these deficiencies can be corrected,” Beakman said. “I have concerns that there’s a lack of emergency entrances into the cave, absolutely terrifying to think that our first responders had to use a sledgehammer and their bare hands to drive a hole in a wall to get some of the victims out.”
On Monday, after Niagara Falls businessman Harshad Shah died in that boating incident, Lockport officials said they were unaware of any issues with the boat in the past. But News 4 has learned that according to a spokesperson for Our Lady of Victory in Lackawanna, in 2015, a group of kids on a field trip were on a boat and it capsized during the trip. No one was hurt.
The church says they’re not sure whether the incident was reported.
Now, we do know that the boat at the Lockport Caves had been inspected, but we still don’t know when the last inspection was. We have made attempts to reach the property owner but have not heard back.
News 4 Investigates has found that the co-owner of the Lockport Cave has a history of dealing with legal and reported safety issues there. Two months ago, Lockport Cave was sued on claims that the business did not pay a contractor in New Jersey for maintenance done to the entrance of the property.
Jeff Preval is an award-winning anchor and reporter who joined the News 4 team in December 2021. See more of his work here.