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Police: Man was drunk in fatal boat crash on Long Island

Raymond Balboa, 53, of Baldwin, faces manslaughter charges after a passenger on his boat was killed Sunday night, Nassau County police said.
Raymond Balboa, 53, of Baldwin, faces manslaughter charges after a passenger on his boat was killed Sunday night, Nassau County police said. Photo Credit: Nassau County Police Dept.

A New York man is facing manslaughter charges in Long Island’s first fatal boating incident this year after he was allegedly drunk at the helm when a passenger was fatally struck by the boat’s propellers, police said Monday.

Raymond Balboa, 53, of Baldwin, was charged with second-degree vehicular manslaughter, operating a vessel while intoxicated and operating an unregistered vessel, police said. He was arraigned Monday morning at First District Court in Hempstead and ordered held on $50,000 bail or $100,000 bond. Balboa is due back in court on Wednesday.

Police said Balboa was at the wheel of his 50-foot Sea Ray boat in Baldwin Bay at 6:25 p.m. Sunday with between 10 and 14 passengers on board. Nassau County Police Insp. Kenneth Lack, the department’s chief spokesman, said at a news conference Monday afternoon that Balboa had stopped the boat about 20 feet from a home with a bulkhead – in Freeport – where the passengers hopped into the water to go swimming. After a little while, Balboa asked everyone to return aboard the boat.

But 34-year-old Cesar Hernandez-Rodas, of Bay Shore, did not. Cops said he was still in the water when Balboa put the boat in gear and started to drive off. Hernandez-Rodas was struck by the vessel’s propeller and suffered “multiple lacerations to his lower extremities,” which caused “debilitating and fatal injuries.”

Lack said Balboa was arrested based on “a police officer’s observation” that he was intoxicated. He declined to say whether Balboa had submitted to a blood-alcohol test at the scene. Court papers said Balboa “did consume alcoholic beverages that impaired his ability to navigate the vessel safely.”

According to police, the passengers aboard the boat were friends of Balboa’s wife. Court documents said the couple was hosting an outing for employees of his wife’s company at the time of the accident. Neither Balboa nor his wife could be reached for comment.

Balboa’s defense lawyer, Michael DerGarabedian, said he believes his client acted appropriately. He told reporters that a witness believed the victim may have jumped into the water. Police declined to comment on that accusation, citing an ongoing investigation. A law enforcement source said investigators were in the process of obtaining a warrant to search the vessel, which has been impounded.