SEPT. 29 — A Virginia man was sentenced to 15 years in prison for running his 36-foot Donzi on top of another boat and killing a middle-aged couple on SmithMountainLake in 2005.
The man, who is 46 and of Moneta, pleaded guilty in June to two counts of involuntary manslaughter by criminal negligence and a misdemeanor count of operating a watercraft under the influence of alcohol, news reports say. The man reportedly offered a tearful apology during his sentencing Tuesday to the families of the couple that died.
Authorities say the man, who had apparently been drinking the night of Aug. 20, 2005, ran his boat on top of a 34-foot Wellcraft, killing the two people on board. The man’s boat, powered by two 500-hp engines, was reportedly traveling about 52 knots at the time of the accident.
Last week the man agreed to pay $2.7 million to settle two wrongful death lawsuits filed by the couple’s estates, reports say. Since the accident, community groups have pushed state legislators to reform speed limits on the lake, to establish noise limits and to increase the number of enforcement officers on the state’s waters.
— Jason Fell