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a few more details
Pulaski (WSYR-TV) - State Police have arrested and charged a 21-year-old in connection with a boat crash that killed an 85-year-old on Oneida Lake last week.
Brad Bouthillier, 21, of Cicero turned himself in to State Police Pulaski around 1:30pm Tuesday. He was arraigned Tuesday afternoon in Constantia Town Court.
Investigators say he was driving the 20-foot 1996 Starcraft boat that crashed into John Kowalewski’s 19-foot Bayliner last Thursday, killing him.
Bouthillier is charged with criminally negligent homicide and leaving the scene of a fatal boating accident.
He's also charged with unlawfully dealing with a child because investigators believe Brad gave alcohol to a girl on the boat who is 19.
Bouthillier entered a mandatory Not Guilty plea. This is routine during a suspect’s first court appearance.
We have the statements that one of Bouthillier’s passengers made to police, and in them, Danielle Ackerina says a sheriff's deputy stopped them twice while they were drinking in Sylvan Beach. Once to check their id's and once because he smelled marijuana, but apparently found no reason to arrest them.
Danielle admits they had all been drinking and some were smoking marijuana, but says she only saw Brad Bouthillier have one drink during the day, and he didn't smoke.
She talks about their ride back to the marina that evening, when she sat down on Brad's lap and they started kissing.
In her statement to State Police, Danielle says she and Brad were only kissing for a few seconds, when she heard a friend start screaming.
"Daniela loudly screamed 'Brad look out!' Daniela's screams scared me, it was the kind of scream from someone who is about to be in an accident…directly in front of us was another boat...standing in the middle of this boat was an old man looking right at us waving his arms above his head as if to warn us that he was there."
Danielle goes on to say, "Just before we hit his boat the old man's eyes met mine and we looked right at each other. It all happened so quick that Brad didn't have a chance to turn or stop."
State Police believe the accident happened sometime around 5pm. In the moments after, Danielle Ackerina describes the panic on Brad's boat.
"None of us knew what to do...I’m pretty sure everyone had a working cell phone, but no one called for help or called anyone."
She says some wanted to go back to Kowalewski’s boat. The group spent about 5 minutes floating in the water, talking about what to do, then Brad drove the boat back toward the marina around 6pm. There the friends cleaned out the bottles and cans from the boat.
Then, she says "Brad loaded the boat onto his trailer and then we all left...Brad put the boat behind a garage in his house"
We know from Danielle's statements that after the friends left Brad's house, some went to police that night, some went the next morning. Danielle says she just wishes she had called for help for Kowalewski, right after the accident.
A lot of people are wondering why it took until Tuesday, five days later, for us to learn these details and for police to arrest Brad Bouthillier. Investigators say they don't consider this a delayed arrest; it’s simply been a thorough investigation.
They say that because there were seven people on this boat, because they were moving around, they had to make sure they had the right driver and now, they feel confident they do.
Tuesday, we also heard from Brad's father, Bruce Bouthillier. He said this has been a very difficult week, then expressed his sympathy to the victim's family.
“Our sincerest condolences go out to the Kowalewski family for this very tragic accident. This is every parent and kids’ worst nightmare.”
Brad Bouthillier is free on bail. His case now goes to the Oswego County Court, but no dates have been set for his next appearance. As for any charges for his passengers, State Police say they haven't ruled that out.
Bouthillier was a 2004 graduate of Cicero-North Syracuse high school, and currently is a full time student at Onondaga Community College studying Respiratory Therapy. We're told he works for his dad's business, Syracuse Medical Equipment Repair Inc.
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