Authorities said an outing on New York’s Baldwin Bay turned deadly Sunday evening when a passenger who was in the water was struck by the boat’s propeller as an intoxicated operator started the engine.
The accident was Long Island’s first boating fatality of the year, Newsday reported.
It was also the second boating fatality in less than a week in the Northeast that involved a propeller accident. On Aug. 6 off Greenwich, Conn., on Long Island Sound a 16-year-old girl was killed and another teenage girl was injured when they were run over by a boat.
In the New York accident, Raymond Balboa, 53, of Baldwin, was arraigned Monday on charges of second-degree vehicular manslaughter, second-degree operating a vessel while intoxicated and operating an unregistered vessel — his 50-foot Sea Ray cabin cruiser — when Cesar Augusto Hernandez-Rodas, 34, of Bay Shore, was killed Sunday evening.
"I didn't drink, dude," a court document quotes Balboa telling a Nassau police highway patrol officer about two hours after the fatal accident.
About 10 to 14 people were on his boat during an outing for employees of a tile company that Balboa and his wife, Diana, own, court documents said. They went out to Baldwin Bay to swim, court documents said, and shortly after 6 p.m., Balboa said he ordered his guests to get back on board, then was told that "everyone was on."
"The defendant starts the motor and begins to navigate away when screams begin from people on board and the victim," the court papers said.
The propeller cut the victim's "lower extremities" several times, police said.
It was not immediately clear who called 911, but at 6:34 p.m., nine minutes after the incident, the boat docked at a waterfront home on nearby Irving Avenue in Freeport, where officers were waiting, Nassau police said.
Hernandez-Rodas was taken to South Nassau Communities Hospital in Oceanside, where he was pronounced dead at 7:07 p.m. Sunday, police said.
Balboa's attorney, Michael DerGarabedian of Rockville Centre, said a witness account contradicts the police version. According to the witness, Hernandez-Rodas might have jumped into the water, leading to the fatal injury, DerGarabedian said.
The attorney said he believes Balboa,acted properly. He was expected to be released after posting $100,000 bond or $50,000 cash bail.