HALLANDALE BEACH (CBSMiami) – A Hallandale Beach woman is accused of waiting more than 20 minutes to call for help after a boating crash that left her boyfriend dead and surveillance video obtained exclusively by CBS 4 News reveals what the woman did during that time. Investigators say the woman had plenty of opportunities to ask for assistance but simply failed to do so.
The video, obtained following a request with the Broward State Attorney’s Office, shows Marcella Hewett on the afternoon of December 20, 2013 after a crash that killed her passenger, David Duda, in the Dania Cutoff Canal. The video shows Hewett, who is accused of boating under the influence manslaughter and tampering with evidence, tying up the boat to a nearby residential dock.
Florida Fish and Wildlife investigators say Hewett had already failed to flag down a passing boat for help. The video, from a home in the neighborhood, captures her walking around, through a person’s yard into a neighborhood and again failing to ask for assistance. Court documents reveal a sworn statement from a resident of the community who told investigators that he and his family saw Hewett walking around the streets after the crash but that she did not ask anyone for help or ask for a precise location to give rescue officers.
Police reports say Hewett “appeared to be walking with a stagger.” The surveillance video shows her washing off in the pool at the home where she docked the boat and in one section of the video, Hewett is seen briefly petting a dog while her boyfriend — David Duda — lay critically injured on the vessel.
Investigators write, “Following the accident, Hewett waited approximately twenty-four minutes to give information to anybody and at no time is seen attempting to render aid.”
Investigators say Hewett is seen on the video drinking something and tossing bottle after bottle off the boat. “During the time that Hewett waited to notify emergency services, she throws bottles off of the vessel that she should have known were evidence of a crime that was pending investigation by a law enforcement authority,” investigators write.
Officers say Hewett eventually called 911. In a transcript of the call, she had trouble telling the dispatcher where she was. Clearly, she was worried about Duda.
“He’s about half dead I swear,” she told the 911 dispatcher.
A few minutes later she said, “He’s good. He’s breathing but he’s bleeding. It’s scaring me.”
Eventually, first responders arrived on scene. Duda was dead.
A search warrant reveals that officers found open containers of beer on the vessel and that a “Broward Sheriff’s Deputy stated that (Hewett) appeared to be under the influence of alcohol.” The court documents also show that a Broward Sheriff’s Office firefighter informed investigators that Hewett told him “…she was operating the vessel and that she was going too fast.”
The court documents also reveal that Hewett is a federal employee. Part of the inventory from the boat — is Hewett’s “federal law enforcement credentials.”
We tried to ask Hewett some questions on Monday but a woman at her apartment closed the door. She also did not return a call to her cellphone. Hewett’s attorney, Fred Haddad, told CBS 4 News that he is working through the court documents and video in the case and would not have a comment. He said Hewett has pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Investigators say Hewett’s behavior was strange at the hospital following the crash. When told about Duda’s death, an investigator writes, “(Hewett) made statements such as, ‘I can’t believe my man is dead, oh God my nails look terrible.'”
Fish and Wildlife officers say Hewett’s blood alcohol level was .10 several hours after the accident. The legal limit in Florida is .08.