Investigators find boat driver was drunk at time of fatal accident

In our July 20 post, we wrote about the tragic motorboat accident on the Hudson River, which claimed four lives and sent two passengers to the hospital with serious injuries. At the time of our last post, officials were still investigating the accident. They were waiting on toxicology tests and they were waiting to speak with the survivors, before they would release the report. Recently, they have released their report, which has confirmed that alcohol was indeed involved in the fatal boating accident.

According to the investigation, the group had been drinking at a bar located near the river before the accident. Investigators also found empty beer bottles in the wreckage of the boat. After the survivors of the accident confirmed who was driving the boat, the authorities announced that the 41-year-old driver had a blood alcohol level of .23 percent, which is nearly three times New York's legal limit of .08 percent.

Investigators found that reckless operation of the boat also contributed to the accident, including excessive speed for the conditions and driving the boat outside of the navigable channel in the Hudson River.

The two survivors of the accident each suffered severe injuries, including head injuries. However, they have been released from the hospital.

In 2010, the year with the most recent data available, there were 4,604 recreational boating accidents across the country, which caused 672 deaths and 3,153 personal injuries. According to estimates from the U.S. Coast Guard, alcohol was the leading factor involved in fatal boat accidents last year.

Source: The Poughkeepsie Journal, "Operator of boat in fatal crash had blood alcohol level nearly three times legal limit," John W. Barry, Aug. 12, 2011

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