Skilled Massachusetts boater charged in fatal boating accident

The Boston Globe reported that an experienced boater and vice commodore of the Winthrop Yacht Club has been charged in the wrongful death of a 55-year-old woman who was a passenger on his powerboat when he crashed it into another boat on Sept. 10.

The 39-year-old man is accused of operating his powerboat while under the influence of alcohol when he steered it into a moored sailboat in Allerton Harbor mooring basin off Hull, Massachusetts, at about 11:30 p.m. He has pleaded not guilty.

The man said he had nine passengers aboard as they cruised around Spinnaker Island that night. Even though he had boated in the area for many years, he soon was surprised to see a white sailboat in his path. He said that he tried to steer around the sailboat, but it was too late and the right side of the powerboat plowed into the sailboat, knocking two women in his boat overboard.

Other passengers aboard the 25-foot Privateer powerboat were able to pull the two women out of the water within about 10 minutes, but the 55-year-old was reportedly unconscious after suffering a brain injury. She later died at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. The other woman was treated and released at a local hospital.

Police who arrived at the scene noted that the man showed signs of being drunk, including glassy eyes, slurred speech and odor of alcohol. He agreed to have his blood drawn at a local hospital to check for blood-alcohol content or other drugs, but the results have not yet been released.

When they were interviewed by police, passengers on the boat said that they had seen the man drink a small amount of alcohol, but mainly he had been seen drinking soda. The man admitted to having a few drinks, three at the most, that night.

It is certainly possible that, in addition to criminal charges, the man could also face personal injury lawsuits resulting from this incident brought by the family of the woman who perished as well as others who suffered physical or mental injuries.

Source: Boston Globe, “Man pleads not guilty to fatal boat crash,” Mark Arsenault and John R. Ellement, Sept. 13, 2011.