Posted on July 5, 2010 · Posted in Brain Injury

Alcohol and Boating Don’t Mix

It’s the tail end of the July Fourth weekend,  and how did people celebrate our nation’s birth? Some of them partied, drank and drove — even if they know they shouldn’t.

In the summer, there’s a new twist on that scenario: People go out on their boats, have a cocktail or beer while enjoying the ocean or a lake, and operate those floating vehicles while intoxicated. I guess they don’t view getting behind the wheel of a boat as “driving.”

That kind of attitude left one young man, set to be married in August, dead on Friday. His fiancee, Sissy Chacko. 27, is so distraught she can’t believe he’s gone. And the tragedy may be compounded, as I’ll explain in a bit, for the two other men who sustained “minor injuries” in the crash.

Out in New York harbor not far from the Statue of Liberty, a 30-foot ProLine boat struck a 17-foot Bayliner, obviously a much smaller vessel. The Bayliner was split in half in the accident, and its three passengers were taken to Jersey City Medical Center.

Jijo Puthuvamkunnath, 30, died. He was set to be wed Aug. 28. The man who was piloting the ProLine, Richard Aquilone, 39, was slapped with charges of vehicular manslaughter and operating a vessel while intoxicated.

That won’t bring his victim back to life, but Aquilone is at least remorseful. At his arraignment, according to The New York Daily News, Aquilone apologized to Puthuvamkunnath’s family.

What has me worried is actually the other two men who were in the boat with Puthuvamkunnath.

The New York Post Saturday quoted an eyewitness, named Angel Rivera, who saw tho two injured men before they were taken to the hospital.

“One guy was on a stretcher, unconcious. He was bleeding through his nose, and his feet were pale,” Rivera told the tabloid. “The other guy must have been tossed around in the boat, because he had scrapes all over his face. When he went into the ambulance, he kept looking in the mirror at his face in shock.”

In the online verson of the Post’s story, the quote about one man being unconscious is gone. There was no correction on the story, but maybe it was cut for space. The online story just says that both the men were in stable condition with head and knee cuts.

None of the other print stories I saw mentioned that one of the accident victims had been knocked unconscious by the sea wreck.

And in the press reports today, which included interviews with Puthuvamkunnath’s devastated family, the injuries of the two other men are played down. The Post wrote Sunday that they sustained minor injuries.

We hope that physicians do not treat the injury of the young man who apparently was unconcious as “minor,” and that he is properly treated for his potential brain injury from the crash.

That would just add to the tragedy of the horrible accident.

And here’s my final comment. To top it all off, and demonstrating the height of irresponsibility, Aquilone had his wife and their three small children with him on the boat that he was piloting while drunk. How could anyone in their right mind endanger their entire family like that?

About the Author

Attorney Gordon S. Johnson, Jr.
Past Chair Traumatic Brain Injury Litigation Group, American Association of Justice :: 800-992-9447