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Runaway boat operator gets four years

A man whose out-of-control powerboat sliced through a sailboat and killed a woman in July 2007 recently accepted a plea deal and will serve four years in prison.

Gregory Siege, 46, of Madison, Conn., has pleaded guilty to second-degree manslaughter and boating under the influence.

Under the plea deal, reached March 31 and approved in New London (Conn.) Superior Court, Siege will also be on probation for five years.

“The victims involved and their concerns were paramount in the negotiations,” says Charles E. Tiernan III, Siege’s defense attorney.

In January, Tiernan challenged evidence of the presence of alcohol in Siege’s system because the field tests were taken more than two hours after the accident, he says.

“The court did agree and suppressed the test results for the charges of boating under the influence,” says Tiernan. “But the state could still use the results as evidence for the other charges.”

On July 8, 2007, Siege fell off his 20-foot center console Edgewater with 200-hp outboard at about 3:46 p.m. He was not wearing a lanyard, so the uncontrolled vessel raced through the Connecticut River near Old Saybrook, Conn. At 3:48 p.m., the powerboat sliced through a 14-foot 1979 Hutchins sailboat with a 4-hp outboard, according to authorities. Susan Brandes, 53, of South Windsor — a passenger on the Hutchins — died of several blunt trauma injuries. Three other passengers on board were injured as well. Siege admitted he consumed Scotch whiskey before the incident, and it was reported by the police that he smelled of alcohol and appeared unsteady.

The plea bargain was created in an effort to avoid two trials — one for the charge of boating under the influence where the test results would not be allowed and the second for the rest of the charges where the results could be used as evidence, according to Tiernan.

Siege is set to be formally sentenced at the end of May.

This article originally appeared in the Connecticut and New York Home Waters Section of the June 2009 issue.