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Man pleads not guilty to fatal boat crash

Accused of operating vessel while drunk

By Mark Arsenault and John R. Ellement
Globe Staff / September 13, 2011

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HINGHAM - An experienced boater listed as vice commodore of the Winthrop Yacht Club pleaded not guilty yesterday to charges that he was drunk Saturday when he crashed a powerboat into a sailboat moored off Hull, sending one of his passengers overboard to her death.

Lloyd W. Thompson, 39, of Winthrop, is accused of operating a boat while drunk and negligent homicide. Bail was set in Hingham District Court at $1,500 cash.

One of Thompson’s passengers, Regina Mosher, 55, of Winthrop, died at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston from a brain injury sustained after she was jolted out of the motor boat at impact, about 11:30 p.m. Saturday in the Allerton Harbor mooring basin, according to Hull police.

Thompson smelled of alcohol, his eyes were glassy, and his speech was slurred, police said. With Thompson’s permission, his blood was drawn that night at South Shore Hospital so that it could be analyzed for the presence of drugs and alcohol, police said. Results were still pending yesterday, said police Chief Richard Billings.

Thompson is “absolutely devastated by the tragic loss of a friend,’’ his lawyer, James J. Cipoletta, said in an interview yesterday. He said Thompson has a friendship going back years with Mosher’s family.

“We believe the evidence will show this was a fluke accident, not a crime,’’ he said.

Thompson is scheduled to be back in court for a pretrial hearing Oct. 12.

Thompson told police that he and nine passengers left the Winthrop Yacht Club that evening for a ride on a 25-foot Privateer powerboat.

With Thompson at the controls, they cruised around Spinnaker Island, an area where Thompson has been boating for many years, he told police.

Under a clear sky, Thompson suddenly spotted a white sailboat - named the Wild Thing Boston - moored in his path.

Thompson told police he tried to swerve by “turning hard to port and throttling back, but it was too late.’’

According to police, Thompson told them he was traveling at 17 knots - about 19 miles per hour - at the time of the collision.

He said he did not see the channel markers before the crash. “Honestly, no, I don’t remember laying eyes on them,’’ Thompson told police.

The right side of Thompson’s boat struck the sailboat. He was knocked off his feet and injured his leg. Two people were knocked overboard: Mosher and Danielle Buharali, 32, of Waltham, police said.

Thompson maneuvered the boat so the other passengers could pull the women from the water. Mosher was unconscious. Thompson told police that it took 10 minutes to get both women back in the boat.

Buharali was treated at South Shore Hospital and released.

Thompson allegedly admitted to police he had been drinking alcohol that evening, but insisted it was a small number of drinks - “two or three, tops,’’ including one drink at dinner and no more than two later.

Two other passengers interviewed by police said they saw Thompson drinking small amounts of alcohol; another passenger said she saw him drinking only Pepsi.

After the crash, investigators recovered several empty beer cans, an empty wine box, and wine glasses from the powerboat, according to police.

Massachusetts Environmental Police impounded the powerboat and it has been moved to a secure facility in Cohasset, police said.

Mark Arsenault can be reached at marsenault@globe.com.