Don't Fault Tour Boat in Crash That Killed Fiancée: Company

Driver of larger boat arrested after failing Breathalyzer test

Friday, Jul 9, 2010  |  Updated 12:40 PM EDT
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A family mourns a 30-year-old man killed in a boat crash, allegedly by a drunken driver, near the <a title=Statue of Liberty just weeks before his wedding." />

A family mourns a 30-year-old man killed in a boat crash, allegedly by a drunken driver, near the Statue of Liberty just weeks before his wedding.

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Deadly New York Harbor Boat Accident

One person dead after a deadly boat collision in NY Harbor.
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A tour boat company says its sightseeing speedboat played no role in a deadly collision between two other boats near the Statue of Liberty -- except to call for help.

A Circle Line Downtown spokeswoman said Friday that any probe into the July 2 crash will show neither the Shark tour boat nor its wake contributed to the incident. She noted the Shark was the first boat to respond to the accident scene.

A lawyer for a pleasure boater charged with causing the collision has implicated the sightseeing boat. The attorney says the Shark forced boater Richard Aquilone to swerve, and its wake obscured his view.

Aquilones boat collided with a smaller craft. The crash killed 30-year-old Jijo Puthuvamkunnath, who was set to be married in less than eight weeks, aboard the smaller boat.

Aquilone was behind the wheel with his wife and three young children on board when his 30-foot boat "T-boned" a 20-foot boat carrying Puthuvamkunnath and two friends, splitting it in half. He and his family were physically unhurt.

Investigators say the impact left the smaller boat so mangled that it hampered the rescue effort. Puthuvamkunnath's two 30-year-old friends were hospitalized -- one with knee abrasions and one with a head laceration -- but are expected to recover.

Those who know Aquilone were both shocked and devastated to learn he may have been responsible for the tragedy.

Investigators charged Aquilone with vehicular manslaughter, operating a vessel under the influence of alcohol and endangering the welfare of a child. They say he was drunk while driving his boat, named "Reel Impulsive," Friday night.

Aquilone has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

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