OLCOTT – The woman found in her heavily damaged boat that washed up Wednesday night just east of Olcott Harbor died as a result of injuries suffered in a boating accident, according to the Niagara County Sheriff’s Office.
Authorities believe Saundra Burns’ boat struck something in Lake Ontario as she was boating alone at night. She was last seen at the harbor Tuesday night.
“She struck something pretty hard,” Niagara County Sheriff James R. Voutour said. “The damage is low on the boat, as if she struck something that may have not been visible, just below or at the surface of the water. What she struck, we don’t know.”
Voutour said authorities will look for transfer from the boat on rocks and piers. “There’s also some trees down there in the lake and other objects,” he added.
He said there was a lot of damage to the steering wheel, which indicates she struck her head and chest as she was thrown forward.
The autopsy indicated her injuries were consistent with striking an unknown object and there was nothing suspicious, Voutour said.
The 62-year-old Lockport woman’s body was found by Niagara County sheriff’s deputies at about 7 p.m. Wednesday after a caller in the 6100 block of Lake Road reported finding Burns’ boat had washed ashore and into a dock on Lake Ontario.
When deputies looked inside, they found the body.
Burns, who lived alone, owned the boat, Voutour said. Family members told investigators she had a slip at Olcott Harbor and that she often went boating alone at night to watch the sunset and to putt around.
Voutour said investigators determined she had been out on the lake at night because the boat’s lights were on when it was found.
Authorities don’t know exactly when she went out on the lake, but Voutour said her car was found parked at Olcott Harbor. Her damaged boat washed ashore half a mile from the harbor, he said.