Alcohol, Drugs, Speed Cited in Boat Wreck

Morgantown Dominion Post
12 June 2015
By Alex Lang

Alcohol, drugs and excessive speed were all factors in a Memorial Day boat wreck on Cheat Lake that injured 12 young adults, according to an accident report released by the Division of Natural Resources (DNR) on Thursday.

The report does not list driver’s blood-alcohol content (BAC). According to a criminal complaint against Brandon Solomon, his BAC exceeded the limit of 0.08 percent for operating a watercraft, but the specific figure was not listed.

Also in the report, the contributing factor categories of alcohol use, drug use and excessive speed were checked off, but no details were provided.

DNR officials referred questions to the Monongalia County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, which is handling the criminal case. Prosecuting Attorney Marcia Ashdown declined to comment on which drugs were used as the case is still being prosecuted.

Solomon, 20, of Morgantown, was charged with 11 counts of boating while intoxicated causing injury, for driving an unlicensed vessel and not having enough life jackets aboard the 23-foot Malibu Wakesetter. He faces up to 11 years in prison from his misdemeanor charges.

Solomon is free after posting $32,000 bond.

The 11 passengers were Jacob Alexander, 21; Reid Bailey, 21; Rachel Coyle, 20; Carly Della Sala, 20; Michael Gaudino, 21; Morgan Gerdon, 19; Tyler Geyer, 21; Bret Grady, 21; Maci Robles, 18; Hannah Spangler, 18; and Carly Weinstein, 20.

Each of the 12 people involved was admitted to the hospital.

According to the 17-page DNR report, Solomon fell from behind the wheel area and lost control of the boat, which crashed into an embankment. The boat involved was a total loss, estimated at $25,000. He is listed as the boat’s owner.

The vessel sustained damage to the bow, both sides near the bow, the hull under the bow and the interior structure behind the bow on both sides.

The boat was cruising, which indicated the boat was under way and under power. It was being used for recreational activities, according to the report.

Seven life jackets were aboard the boat. State requirements state there should be life jackets for all people aboard. According to the report, none of those on board wore a life jacket.

There was good visibility and no wind at the time of the accident, according to the report. The waves of up to 6 inches, were described as calm.

Solomon had completed a boat safety course through the Internet in 2009, the report said.