LAKE GEORGE, N.Y. (AP) – Federal safety officials said Friday that the captain of the tour boat that capsized last month on Lake George, killing 20, drank the night before the accident, but tests found no evidence he was impaired at the helm.

Toxicology tests on Richard Paris, who was piloting the Ethan Allen when it overturned the afternoon of Oct. 2, were negative for alcohol and drugs, according to the National Transportation Safety Board. The results were released as the NTSB investigates why the boat carrying 47 elderly leaf peepers capsized on a clear, calm day.

Total weight and how it was distributed that day have emerged as possible causes of the capsizing. The boat was certified for up to 50 people but officials say that was based on obsolete weight guidelines.

The NTSB also said a urine test performed by Northwest Toxicology detected Ethyl Glucuronide (EtG), which can confirm the consumption of alcohol up to 80 hours later. Since Paris gave the sample two days after the Sunday accident, the 80-hour window stretches back to early Saturday morning.

Dr. Michael Feldman of Northwest Toxicology said the presence of EtG in the urine only indicates that alcohol was consumed within an 80-hour window, not how much or when it was consumed.

“It doesn’t answer the question whether he was impaired, whether he could have been impaired. As an expert I’d have to say “I don’t know,”‘ Feldman said.

Paris told safety board investigators that he had ingested alcohol the night before the accident – within the 80-hour window, the NTSB reported Friday. That’s at odds with previously reported information that Paris told investigators his last drink before the accident was a beer the previous Thursday.

However, Warren County Sheriff Larry Cleveland said Friday his office has no record of Paris making that claim.

Paris, 74, was not given drug or alcohol tests immediately after the accident. Cleveland has said police lacked a reasonable cause to test Paris since he showed no signs of impairment during a face-to-face interview.

Cleveland said the new information from the NTSB is too vague to be of use in any potential criminal proceedings. The sheriff’s files have been forwarded to the district attorney, who could impanel a grand jury.

No one picked up the phone at Paris’ home Friday.

His lawyer did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

The NTSB also said Cummins Inc., the manufacturer of the Ethan Allen’s engine, will provide technical information to investigators.


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