PORTLAND, Maine - A Massachusetts man has been indicted on charges of manslaughter and operating under the influence in the deaths of two boaters on Long Lake whose smaller craft was sliced in half by his high-powered speedboat, prosecutors said yesterday.
Robert LaPointe Jr. was intoxicated and operating his 32-foot boat recklessly when the Aug. 11 collision in Harrison took the lives of Terry Raye Trott, 55, of Naples, and Suzanne Groetzinger, 44, of Berwick, District Attorney Stephanie Anderson said.
LaPointe, 38, of Medway, Mass., and his passenger, family friend Nicole Randall, 19, of Bridgton, were thrown into the water while their boat raced ashore.
The vessel, which officials say had a top speed of 80 miles per hour and was moving at an estimated 45 miles per hour at the time of impact, came to rest more than 135 feet inland. Both LaPointe and Randall suffered minor injuries and managed to swim to shore.
The crash occurred about 9 p.m., and Anderson said investigators do not know for sure whether the victims' 14-foot power boat had its running lights on. LaPointe told wardens the boat displayed no lights when he saw it minutes before the collision.
Investigators said the throttle indicated the victims' boat was in motion at the time of the crash, but there was no indication of its speed.
Divers spent four days in the water searching for the victims' bodies before they were recovered. The Maine Warden Service also recovered almost every piece of the demolished boat, put it together with clamps and duct tape, and determined the point of impact and the speed of the boat that hit it.
"It struck on the back left side and went over it," said Warden Jason Luce, who investigated the crash.
LaPointe and Randall were on the water for about nine hours prior to the crash, and LaPointe had stopped and consumed alcohol at various locations, Luce said. LaPointe's blood-alcohol level was 0.11 percent, Anderson said. Maine's legal limit is 0.08. Three cans of beer were found in LaPointe's boat.
No arraignment date has been set for LaPointe.
His lawyer, J. Albert Johnson of Boston, said he doesn't think the district attorney can sustain any of the charges.
"Everyone ought to remember fully and completely that Mr. LaPointe has the presumption of innocence," Johnson said. He added that "negative pretrial publicity, prejudicial publicity can be very dangerous to a fair trial."
LaPointe is self-employed, married with two children, owns property in the Bridgton area, and has no apparent criminal history, Anderson said.
She declined to comment on whether he cooperated with the investigation.
The two counts of manslaughter are each punishable by up to 20 years in prison. The four counts of aggravated OUI each carries a maximum six-month jail term and a $2,100 fine. LaPointe also was charged with one count of reckless conduct with a dangerous weapon.
The accident generated extensive news coverage and prompted questions as to whether boats like LaPointe's, which was equipped with twin, 435-horsepower engines, are appropriate for use on Maine lakes.
The state has no statistics on the number of large, high-powered speedboats on popular southern Maine lakes such as Long Lake or Sebago, Luce said, but "there are a fair number of these boats out there."