FT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) – A Hallandale Beach woman accused of being drunk when she slammed a boat into a piling in the Dania Cut Off Canal, killing her boyfriend, has accepted a plea deal from prosecutors.
In exchange for pleading no contest to charges of manslaughter while boating under the influence of alcohol and tampering with physical evidence, 52-year old Marcella Hewett was sentenced to prison for seven years, according to the Sun-Sentinel.
Surveillance video of the December 20th, 2013 accident reveals that Hewett waited about 30 minutes before reporting the crash to 911.
On the video, Hewett can be seen 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.
On the video Hewett is also seen drinking something and tossing bottle after bottle off the boat.
Officers say Hewett eventually called 911. In a transcript of the call, she had trouble telling the dispatcher where she was but she did express concern over her boyfriend, David Duda, who was critically injured in the boat.
“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.”
When first responders arrived on scene Duda was dead.
A search warrant revealed 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.” 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.”
Fish and Wildlife officers said Hewett’s blood alcohol level was .10 several hours after the accident. The legal limit in Florida is .08.