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Jersey City boater accused in fatal crash enters not-guilty plea

Boating is a very popular activity among New York and New Jersey residents, but it also comes with some risks. When boat operators drink, drive recklessly or simply don't pay attention, accidents can happen quickly. And just as with crashes involving cars, the consequences are often deadly.

The most common boating accidents happen when one boat hits another vessel or a fixed object, such as a pier. These emergencies are often more urgent than an accident on the road because of the added hazard of the water; passengers can be thrown overboard or become trapped inside the boat, unable to save themselves from drowning.

An example of such an accident is the fatal boat collision that happened in New York Harbor July 2, 2010. A 43-year-old private equities firm director was driving his 30-foot motorboat when he hit the wake of a passing boat and crashed down onto a smaller one. The collision trapped the 17-foot Bayliner operator, a 30-year-old physical therapist, inside his boat and he was later pronounced dead at a New Jersey hospital. The accident happened two months before his planned wedding, leaving his family and fiancée inconsolably heartbroken.

The speedboat operator was charged with criminally negligent homicide, vehicular manslaughter, assault and operating a vessel while under the influence of alcohol. His blood alcohol level was measured at .06, which is under the legal limit of .08 but enough for a drunken boating charge. The man pleaded not guilty to all the charges against him this week, arguing that the sightseeing boat that passed in front of him just before the accident was to blame for creating such a large wake that he couldn't see the smaller vessel.

The victim's family has filed a civil lawsuit against the other boat operator, who has filed his own lawsuit against the operator of the sightseeing boat. How these criminal and civil cases will end remains to be seen, but the defendants in all of these lawsuits have denied responsibility. Meanwhile, as all of the parties involved work through the details of the criminal and civil cases, the victim's loved ones continue to struggle through life without him.

Source: New York Post, "Private equity firm director pleads not guilty in fatal 2010 boat crash," Laura Italiano, Sept. 13, 2012

· Our firm handles situations similar to the one described in this post. To learn more about our practice, please visit our New York and New Jersey wrongful death page.

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