HUNTINGTON – Investigators have identified a 10-year-old boy who lost his life in a boating accident on Norwich Lake Tuesday night as Gus Adamopoulos, of Ludlow.
Northwestern District Attorney Elizabeth D. Scheibel said the boy and his 53-year-old father, James Adamopoulos, had been paddling in a kayak shortly before 6:30 p.m. when they were struck by a motorboat that had been pulling a water-skier.
The boy was taken by ambulance to Noble Hospital in Westfield where he died, Scheibel said.
The father, who suffered a leg injury, was taken to Noble and then to Baystate Medical Center in Springfield, she said. Baystate could not provide any information about him on Wednesday.
State police said the driver of the motorboat was a 37-year-old Westfield man. His name has not been released.
Gus was poised to enter the fifth grade at Veterans Park Elementary School, Ludlow School Superintendent Theresa M. Kane said.
Kane, who did not know the boy personally, said that Susan Dukeshire, principal of Veterans Park, spoke very highly of him.
“She told me that he was a very nice boy, a well-liked student, and he is certainly someone that added a lot to the school community and will be missed,” Kane said.
School starts Aug. 31 and school officials are working out plans to have some kind of counseling available that first day.
“At a minimum, we will have counselors available at the opening of school,” Kane said, adding that school officials may make counseling available in the near-term as well.
Scheibel said an investigation is under way to determine if criminal charges are warranted against the motorboat operator. “There were witnesses to the accident, statements are being taken from those witnesses,” Scheibel said.
That investigation is being led by troopers assigned to the Franklin-Hampshire County State Police Detective Unit. Troopers on scene were assisted by members of the state Environmental Police Department and the Huntington Police and Fire departments.
Scheibel said an autopsy may be conducted today.
Officials did not say how fast the motorboat was traveling. In Massachusetts, powerboats in inland waterways are generally limited to speeds of no more than 45 mph, unless the marked otherwise.
According to the state Division of Law Enforcement, motorboats are not supposed to go at a speed greater than what is considered safe taking into account weather, visibility and traffic.
The 110-acre Norwich Lake, according to the Outdoor Recreational Resources guide for Hampshire County, is described as a “jewel in the hills.”
The guide says it is ideal for small craft, rowboats, canoes, small sailboats, and low-speed motorboats. The one public boat ramp off Pisgah Road in Huntington is the only public access to the pond.
On Wednesday afternoon, quiet lake life continued as usual on Norwich Lake with a summer camp of children swimming in the beach area, residents relaxing on the banks and boaters on the water.
Michael S. Kruger, a year-round resident on Birchwood Road, said he was not on the water at the time of the fatal accident.
He wondered if the sun, which he described as blinding at that time of day, played a factor. “The sun is blazing” he said. “It comes right down and reflects off the lake. You can’t see anything.”
Kruger, himself a father of a 5-year-old who was just coming off the lake with his son, expressed his sympathy for the Adamopoulos family and that of the boaters.
He said he heard from someone who witnessed the accident that the boater pulling the water-skier was not operating the vessel recklessly.
Seasonal renter Andrew J. Aulde, of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., said he was home at the time of the accident and saw water-skiers on the lake. Some time after spotting the water-skiers, he heard sirens and saw emergency vehicles converge on the lake.
“I thought there might have been a fire,” he said. “This is the first I’ve heard that there was a death.”