Fatal boat crash, serious horse-and-buggy collision both remain open investigations, Sheriff Spike says

Two major cases involving fatalities and serious injuries could be heard by a grand jury in Yates County.

That was the update from Sheriff Ron Spike, who recently addressed the status of two serious incidents that happened there.

The first was a fatal boat accident on Seneca Lake. The second was a near-fatal crash involving a horse and buggy.

He says both of the investigations are active at this point.

“These remain open investigations by both the Yates County sheriff’s office and district attorney’s office,” Sheriff Spike told the Finger Lakes Times.


The boat accident happened near the Showboat Motel in Milo on July 11. A Waterloo woman, Cynthia Stuck, died in the wreck. The boat was being operated by Michael Battley, a Seneca Falls resident. The boat had made an abrupt turn, which resulted in it rolling on its side.

Several people were ejected from the boat.

The buggy crash happened exactly 10 days later on July 21. Ivan and Ella Horning were seriously injured when a vehicle collided with the buggy on Route 14A in Benton.

The driver, William Valentin, 55, of Geneva was charged with failing to exercise due care in approaching a horse and following too closely. The district attorney’s office is involved in that investigation – and over the last several months – the driver’s cell phone has been considered a central piece of evidence.

“These incidents are not closed,” Spike added. “These cases are both serious incidents, and some matters require the results of forensic evidence for fair and just decisions going forward within the criminal justice system or not.”

UPDATE: Sheriff Spike gives update on fatal boat crash on Seneca Lake


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