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UPDATE: This is an update to the following story which was published on August 10th. A hearing scheduled for Wednesday, August 12th, in which Elias Hanono was to either accept or reject a plea deal offered by the state was continued until September 30th. Outside the courtroom after the hearing, Hanono’s attorney said they were continuing to work to resolve the case with a plea agreement and avoid a trial. He wouldn’t say what the sticking point might be at this point.

 

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The fireworks had just ended July 4th a year ago, when celebration became calamity. Boats were heading to shore after a night of fun when there was a horrific collision involving three vessels.

Andrew Garcia, 23, was steering his 32 foot T-topped fishing boat to the marina when he broadsided a 33 foot pleasure craft being piloted by Elias Michael Hanono, 31. Garcia’s boat, with no one any longer at the helm, went on to collide with a third vessel. Seven people were injured, four were killed, all young people.

Among the dead were Garcia, Victoria Dempsey, Kelsie Karpiak and Jason Soleimeni, who was visiting from New York.

Andrew Garcia (Source: Facebook), Victoria Dempsey (Source: Twitter), Kelsey

Andrew Garcia (Source: Facebook), Victoria Dempsey (Source: Twitter), Kelsey

Tests showed Andrew Garcia had been drinking. But Elias Hanono was cited in the accident. Police say he failed to yield the right of way and had inadequate running lights.

According to Andrew Garcia’s father, Jack, prosecutors have offered Hanono a plea deal that will include a fine and probation, among other things – but no jail time.

Garcia’s father was resigned to the resolution Monday.

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“Everybody paid very dearly in this thing. It was very clearly an accident. It wasn’t done intentionally. Nothing is going to bring my son or any of those kids back,” Garcia said.

While four families have endured unspeakable heartache, Garcia recognizes Hanono, too, must be suffering.

“The individual has paid dearly himself. Everybody has paid a heavy price,” Garcia told CBS4’s Gary Nelson.

In the carnage on the bay, Garcia, a former fire rescue boat captain, says there is a takeaway.

“The lesson is that before you get on the water, especially at night, make sure you are very proficient and you know what you’re doing, and that people’s lives are at stake,” he said.

As part of the plea offer, that Garcia said has been shared with him by prosecutors, Elias Hanono must take boating safety classes, in addition to the fine and probation.

A spokesperson for the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s office said no plea bargain has been struck – and none can be until it is announced and accepted in open court. Scott Bennett, Hanono’s defense attorney, told CBS4 News in an email Monday afternoon that no offer has been extended or accepted “at this juncture.”

Mike Dempsey, the father of victim Victoria Dempsey, declined to discuss whether he had been consulted regarding a plea deal. Craig Karpiak, father of victim Kelsie Karpiak, said he had not been briefed on any plea offer, but that wouldn’t necessarily mean other family members have not been contacted.

The charges against Hanono are misdemeanors. He was not charged with more serious criminal offenses because it could not be shown he was behaving in a criminally reckless manner. He essentially committed the alleged boating equivalent of failing to follow proper procedures at a four-way stop.

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CBS4 News Investigator Jim Defede contributed to this report.