Lockport Cave Accident, Lockport Cave Accident Raises Safety Concerns

Lockport, New York – Soon after a tour boat flipped over during a tour of a dimly lit cavern system, leaving one passenger dead, members of another group recalled a similar experience while taking the same tour eight years ago and questioned whether anything had been done since then to make the attraction safer.

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Tragedy Strikes: Tour Boat Capsizes in Lockport Cavern System

News of the 2015 capsizing emerged as the investigation into Monday’s accident continued — and a passenger who survived the most recent ordeal recounted how he fought to breathe under the upside-down craft.

Previous Incident Raises Questions About Safety Measures

The flat-bottomed boat carrying local hospitality workers capsized during a tour of a historic underground water tunnel off the Erie Canal in the western New York city of Lockport. Eight years earlier, clients and staff of the former Baker Victory Services ended up in the water when their boat also flipped, said John Pitts, spokesman for the agency, which has since been renamed OLV Human Services.

Survivor Recounts Terrifying Moments Underwater

“By the time I realized what happened, the boat was on top of me and I couldn’t find any air pockets or anything. And I’m just trying to, like, breathe because I’m underwater,” survivor Daniel Morrissette told ABC’s “Good Morning America” in an interview aired Tuesday.

Victim Identified as Harshad Shah

The passenger who died also was trapped beneath the boat. Lockport police late Tuesday identified him as Harshad Shah, a 65-year-old Niagara Falls resident who served as president of the Budget Host Inn in Niagara Falls.

Families Seek Answers and Justice

“His wife remains in shock, unable to come to terms with this fatal event that unfolded before her eyes,” a statement from Shah’s family, tweeted by WRGZ, said. “We are all seeking answers to the why and how of this tragedy.”

Calls for Enhanced Safety Measures Grow Louder

Lockport Mayor Michelle Roman said during a news conference that the attraction, located about 20 miles northeast of Niagara Falls, has operated since the mid-1970s without incident. However, concerns are mounting about the lack of safety measures and precautions.

Disturbing Similarities: Another Passenger Recalls 2015 Capsizing

Sheri Scavone, whose son experienced a similar capsizing incident in 2015, expressed her concerns. She said her son, then 15, was on the boat that capsized in 2015 and is still traumatized by the experience he remembers vividly.

Urgent Need for Safety Enhancements

At the time, Scavone was only concerned with her son’s well-being, she said. Now she wishes she hadn’t let it go and is troubled that the tours have continued to operate without at least handing out life jackets.

Investigation Underway: City of Lockport Police Take Charge

Lockport Cave Tours operator has not responded to requests for comment. City of Lockport Police were investigating the accident. The mayor’s office and fire chief did not respond to emails and texts seeking an update Tuesday.

Lockport’s Historic Underground Water Tunnel

The tours take visitors on an underground boat ride through a rough-hewn tunnel, which was blasted out in the 19th century to transport canal water as an industrial power source.

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