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Captain accepts responsibility, but claims innocence

MARCH 28 — The captain of a tour boat that capsized on upstate New York’s Lake George in October 2005, killing 20 elderly passengers, pleaded guilty Monday to a misdemeanor charge in connection to the fatal accident.

Richard Paris, 75, and his employer, Shoreline Cruises, pleaded guilty to a violation of the state’s navigation code as a result of the sinking of the Ethan Allen, a glass-enclosed tour boat that had been carrying 47 elderly passengers from Michigan, news reports say. Paris and the company each paid $250 fines. Paris also was ordered to serve 210 hours of community service.

At the sentencing, Paris reportedly said he was sorry about the accident but believes he was not responsible for causing it. “As far as I was concerned, I did nothing wrong. It was strictly an accident," Paris says in a news report. "It's something I have to live with for the rest of my life. But if it's boiled right down, it was not my fault.

"I pled guilty just to get this over with and get back to somewhat of a normal life," Paris continues in the report. "This thing, they had to come up with something to satisfy the people out in Michigan."

Paris and Shoreline Cruises were indicted last month on charges that Ethan Allen was overcrowded and that Paris did not have enough crewmembers on board, reports say. A number of lawsuits naming Paris and Shoreline Cruises as defendants have also been filed in federal court by survivors and relatives of the victims.

Jason Fell