Florida dealer sentenced in BUI death - Trade Only Today

Florida dealer sentenced in BUI death

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An Orlando boat dealer who was accused of piloting a boat while he was drunk and crashing, killing a 20-year-old and injuring four others, was sentenced to six years in federal prison last week.

Mark David Watts, owner of Liquid Sports Marine, was charged with killing Shelby Harper, a former Amateur Athletic Union basketball star, during the accident on Lake Irma in east Orange County in July 2006, according to the Orlando Sentinel.

Orange County court records show that Watts, 51, pleaded no contest to operating a boat under the influence of alcohol and three counts of boating under the influence, according to the Orlando Sentinel. State prosecutors dropped the more serious charges of vessel homicide, boating under the influence causing damage and reckless operation of a vessel.

In addition to prison, Watts will have to serve three years on probation. A judge also ordered a special condition that Watts speak publicly about the danger of drinking alcohol.

Harper and her friends met Watts and his wife at the Roxy nightclub shortly before the accident, initial reports said. When the club closed early that morning, the Wattses invited Harper and her friends to their canal-side home on Lake Irma near University Boulevard, reports said.

Witnesses told deputies that Watts drank at least eight cocktails before taking the boat out. Two guests reportedly skipped the boating after they saw Watts fall into the water when he first tried to board his boat.

Reports taken at the time showed that witnesses told authorities that when Watts finally got into the boat, he sped away from the dock at full throttle. Watts, who was boating without running lights, rammed a dock.

Those on board the boat suffered broken arms, a collapsed lung, a lacerated liver and facial fractures. Harper suffered a broken neck and died at the hospital.

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