Massachusetts man charged in suspected drowning

To escape the summer heat, many people in Massachusetts spend the weekend on boats and beaches. Although boats seem relatively safe, they are still powerful vessels and due care must be taken to avoid injury. Of course, when alcohol involved, due care is often forgotten.

Recently, a 22-year-old Marshfield, Massachusetts, man was charged with operating a boat under the influence of alcohol in connection with an accident on July 16 that seemingly resulted in the drowning death of the man’s best friend, a 23-year-old Marshfield man.

The accident reportedly took place that Saturday after the two men had been enjoying beers and a barbecue at a small strip of beach in Scituate, Massachusetts, known as the Spit. When the partying came to an end around sundown, the two men headed home in a 20-foot pleasure craft that belonged to the 22-year-old’s father.

According to authorities, the 22-year-old admitted to drinking ten beers prior to the voyage home, which he claimed left him only “a little buzzed.” But when the boat was about 1,000 feet off Brant Rock Beach, it heaved for some unknown reason and tossed both men into the water.

When the 22-year-old surfaced, he said he saw his best friend and his backpack near the circling boat. He called out to his friend, but never swam closer, because he was afraid of being hit by the boat’s propeller, the man told police. The man then dove back under the water for about a minute, and when he resurfaced his best friend was gone.

The 23-year-old has now been missing for more than a week after rescue efforts by air and sea have proved unsuccessful. Massachusetts state police are now reevaluating their search efforts and deciding whether another air search will be made following the one yesterday morning.

The 22-year-old reportedly posted bail, which was set at $10,000 cash, and is scheduled to appear in court next on September 15. The man has pleaded innocent to the charges against him.

In addition to the criminal charges, the 22-year-old could also face a wrongful death lawsuit brought by the family of the 23-year-old who is believed to be dead. However, until the young man’s body is found, they are likely hoping for the best.

Source: Boston.com, “Pilot had beers, police say,” Laura J. Nelson, 7/19/2011; PatriotLedger.com, “No breaks in search for missing Marshfield boater,” Dennis Tatz, 7/25/2011.