Boater Faces BUI

Morgantown Dominion Post
11 June 2015
By Conor Griffith

The West Virginia Division of Natural Resources (DNR) filed charges Wednesday in a Memorial Day boating accident at Cheat Lake.

Sgt. J. Crawley, of the DNR police, said Brandon Solomon, 20, of Morgantown, surrendered to the Monongalia County Sheriff’s Department on Wednesday.

The single-boat accident, which occurred shortly before 9 p.m. May 25, injured 12 people, with some taken to Ruby Memorial Hospital by HealthNet helicopter.
The sheriff’s department was the first law enforcement agency to arrive, and the DNR conducted the investigation.

Solomon faces 13 misdemeanor charges — operating an unregistered vessel, boating without enough flotation devices and 11 counts of boating under the influence of alcohol and/or controlled substances causing injury.

According to criminal complaints, Solomon operated a 2005 Malibu Wakesetter with 11 passengers on board, but had only seven life-preservers. Crawley said boats are also required to have a registration number displayed on the side similar to a license plate on a car, and the boat did not.

Police also said Solomon failed to maintain control of the boat while having a blood alcohol content (BAC) over the legal boating limit of 0.08 percent, causing the boat to crash and resulting in injuries to the passengers.

The 11 other people involved in the accident were identified as Jacob Alexander, Reid Bailey, Rachel Coyle, Carley Dellasala, Michael Gaudino, Morgan Gerdon, Tyler Geyer, Bret Grady, Maci Robles, Hannah Spangler and Carly Weinstein.

All those involved were ages 18 to early 20s. No charges or citations were issued against them as of Wednesday afternoon. According to Mon County Magistrate Court records, Solomon was freed on $32,000 bail.

When asked who owned the boat, details of the accident scene or whether additional charges would be filed against anyone else, Crawley declined to comment since the accident is still being investigated.

Officer A.R. Clevenger, the investigating officer for the DNR, could not be reached for more details in time for this report.

The DNR falls under the umbrella of the Department of Commerce. Chelsea Ruby, the department’s director of marketing and communications, said Solomon had completed the required boating education course. She added that any additional charges would have to be decided by the county prosecutor’s office.

The Dominion Post asked about other details, such as the boat’s owner and Solomon’s BAC, but they were not provided.

If convicted on all charges, Solomon could face up to 11 years in prison and more than $22,000 in fines.

Attempts to reach Solomon for comment Wednesday were unsuccessful.