Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Waving Goodbye For the Night

At least I can:

"A Charlestown man is due in court Monday on drunken driving charges in a gruesome boating accident that severed the arm of a 19-year-old passenger. Benjamin Urbelis, 33, of Charlestown was allegedly operating a 29-foot boat named “Naut Guilty” when a woman fell overboard into Boston Harbor Saturday evening. As she tried to get back on the boat, her arm became caught in the propeller, authorities said."

I cut the article short there; how terrifying.

"After woman’s arm was cut off, chaos ensued on boat" by Peter Schworm and Nestor Ramos Globe Staff  June 01, 2015

The distress calls over the radio were loud and clipped and they kept coming. “Mayday! Mayday!”

The craft in trouble Saturday was a 29-foot powerboat with nine young women ages 19 to 22 aboard and four men in their 30s, one of them the allegedly drunk captain, 33-year-old Benjamin Urbelis, a self-employed lawyer who specializes in DUI defense cases. His boat’s name: “Naut Guilty.”

Four guys in their 30s with nine girls in their 20s? I don't like it.

Minutes before the distress plea, the boat was seen swerving through the remains of the Long Island Bridge, maneuvering the wrong way through the passage, a witness said. Urbelis attempted to anchor near Spectacle Island, and 19-year-old Nicole Berthiaume of Auburn jumped over the side to retrieve a seat cushion that had blown into the water, prosecutors say.

As she struggled to climb aboard, the Naut Guilty’s propeller cut off her arm above the elbow.

The woman was rescued by Boston Fire Department and Coast Guard vessels that raced to the scene and stopped her bleeding, and she was in stable condition yesterday at Massachusetts General Hospital. A frantic, and ultimately vain, search for her severed arm continued until dark.

Urbelis was arrested on charges of operating under the influence and reckless operation of the vessel. He pleaded not guilty Monday standing before a Boston Municipal Court judge, wearing a “Beat L.A.” Boston Celtics T-shirt and swimming trunks. He was ordered held on $75,000 cash bail.

A Suffolk County prosecutor said at the arraignment that Urbelis was “drunk and belligerent” when interviewed by police Saturday night following the incident.

Urbelis initially refused any field sobriety tests, prosecutors said. When he allegedly consented to a breath test about four hours later, his blood-alcohol level was measured at .09, according to Assistant District Attorney Nicole Rimar — over the legal limit of .08 for both land and water.


None of the passengers on the boat returned messages seeking comment on Monday.

In the courtroom Monday, Urbelis tried to avoid being photographed, but the judge ordered him to step forward into public view. Urbelis’s lawyer, Daniel O’Malley, who is widely known for representing motorists accused of drunken driving, told Municipal Court Judge Sally Kelly that Urbelis is a self-employed attorney. According to the state Board of Bar Overseers website, Urbelis was admitted to the bar in December 2008.

On a website advertising the services of Urbelis Law LLC, Urbelis claimed to have won acquittals in 80 percent of his trial cases as a defense attorney.

The site said his practice specialized in defending drunken driving, motor vehicle, and drug cases. It said he attended Suffolk University Law School and has a bachelor’s degree in business from the University of Connecticut.

At least he can defend himself.

The website also said he was part owner of at least one Boston bar and started a “nightlife consulting” company called Top Shelf Entertainment.

According to Registry of Motor Vehicles records, Urbelis was arrested in Andover on New Year’s Eve in 1998 for operating under the influence when he was 16. He failed a breathalyzer test, exceeding the .02 level for juvenile drivers, according to the Registry.

Urbelis was required to attend a program on the dangers of alcohol consumption targeting teenage drivers and his right to drive was suspended twice in 1999 for the drunken driving charge, Registry records show.

Urbelis has also amassed a three-page driving history. He has been cited for speeding three times, most recently in Randolph in 2008, and he was involved in a surchargeable accident in Somerville in 2005 and cited for illegal operation of a motor vehicle in Boston in August 2005, the records show.

It's what inspired him to become a lawyer!


At least the girl is still alive:

"Methuen girl, 5, dead in apparent pool drowning" by Jack Newsham and Martha Schick Globe Correspondents  May 31, 2015

METHUEN — After a desperate search by neighbors and police, a 5-year-old girl was pulled from a pool at her Methuen home early Sunday afternoon and later declared dead in what appeared to be a drowning.

Methuen Police Chief Joseph Solomon said the girl was being watched by a 15-year-old baby sitter at the Russell Street residence where she was found. Solomon said she appeared to have stepped onto the cover of the home’s murky, unused backyard pool after slipping out of the house unnoticed and fallen into the deep end.

“The pool was extremely murky, zero visibility,” Solomon said. “It is a very sad day for us and the family.”

Initially, officials thought the girl may have been lost. Ron Desrocher, a neighbor, said he saw her alone by the pool shortly before noon. About 15 minutes later, he said he heard the girl’s mother calling the child’s name in a panic.

A reporter was turned away from the house by authorities....


The babysitter must feel awful. 

I will be out for the rest of the night, readers. Should be back early tomorrow morning.

NDUs: 2-year-old N.H. boy found floating in pool dies

"Woman who lost arm in boat accident ‘doing fine,’ relative says" by Nestor Ramos and Catherine Cloutier Globe Staff  June 02, 2015

A Charlestown lawyer and night life impresario who was allegedly drunk when his boat’s propeller cut off a young woman’s arm had his bail reduced Tuesday, as the investigation continues into the gruesome Saturday night incident on Boston Harbor.

Now we know how they met the girls.

Bail for Benjamin Urbelis, 33, was dropped from $75,000 to $10,000. Urbelis, whose website boasts of his success in drunken driving cases, has pleaded not guilty to charges that include causing serious bodily injury while operating a boat under the influence.

“While the full extent of the defendant’s operation and control of the boat are under investigation, we agreed it was an appropriate step at this point,” said Jake Wark, a spokesman for the Suffolk district attorney’s office.

It was not clear whether Urbelis had posted bail. His lawyer did not return a call Tuesday afternoon.

A 19-year-old Auburn woman, identified in a police report as Nicole Berthiaume, lost her right arm when it became caught in the propeller of Urbelis’s boat, Naut Guilty. Reached at her home in Worcester, Berthiaume’s grandmother, Mary DePasquale, said Berthiaume is “doing fine.”

Berthiaume was one of several people who jumped into the water to retrieve a seat cushion that blew off the boat, according to court documents.

As Urbelis attempted to drop anchor, Berthiaume struggled to climb back aboard, prosecutors said. Her arm went into the boat’s propeller and was severed above the elbow.

I was going to stop there because I don't know what the wimp that I am would have done out on a boat with such horror unfolding. Everybody probably giggling and laughing, too.

The 29-foot Chaparral 290 Signature boat was carrying 14 people, according to police — four men in their 30s, nine women ages 19-22, and a 15-year-old boy. The 290 Signature is “yacht certified,” according to manufacturer’s documents, and has no set capacity.

A fifteen-year-old boy, too?

But the boat, according to a police report, was also well stocked with alcohol. Urbelis initially declined a sobriety test, police said, but allegedly tested at 0.09 — above the legal limit of 0.08 — when he assented four hours later.

In addition to his law practice, Urbelis is part owner of a Financial District bar and lounge, Julep Bar, and in 2008 — the same year he was admitted to the Massachusetts bar — he founded a night life promotion business called Top Shelf Entertainment.

It's an ingrained part of the culture and economy, promoted by ma$$ media despite officialdom admonishing against it. I'm tired of making temperance lectures here so bottoms up.

The lawyer, who often handled drunken driving allegations by day, spent weekend nights building a reputation as an impresario who gathered revelers and well-known local DJs for dance parties at downtown clubs.

Fun guy!

Occasionally, his businesses would converge. The website of Urbelis’s law firm says he “is well-known to many in the hospitality industry as their first call when in legal trouble.”

But one of Urbelis’s night life ventures also ran into some problems. Julep Bar, at 200 High St. in Boston, was found in violation of underage drinking laws last month, according to the Massachusetts state treasurer’s office.

Girls on the boat.... what would a dad think? 

The rest the web added:

On the website of Top Shelf Entertainment, he touted the results he got as a promoter.

“It’s insane,” said Urbelis in a video from 2008. “We’ve got four floors packed every single Friday. We’re at capacity by 10:30.”

Police have not said whether they believe the underage guests on the Naut Guilty — including Berthiaume — were drinking Saturday.

Too late to find out now.


Also see: Coast Guard officer relieved after vessel grounding

Sorry I didn't leave a light on for you.


"Witnesses say captain not on boat when woman hurt" by Nestor Ramos Globe Staff  June 09, 2015

A Charlestown lawyer and nightclub promoter who prosecutors say was drunk at the helm when his boat’s propeller sliced through the arm of a 19-year-old was swimming far from the scene when the injury occurred, according to two passengers who were on the boat. 

That raises another set of problems.

Benjamin P. Urbelis, 33, has pleaded not guilty to charges that include reckless and drunken boating causing a serious injury in the May 30 incident that severed the right arm of 19-year-old Nicole Berthiaume. But Urbelis, who promotes his law practice’s expertise in drunken-driving cases online, was so far from the boat that he was initially unaware anything had gone wrong, the two passengers said in a written statement sent to the Globe by a lawyer who responded to attempts to contact the witnesses.

“The Boat’s engine was off and the Boat was anchored for some time,” the witnesses wrote in the statement. “A few of us including Ben went into the water for a while and ended up drifting quite a ways from the Boat. While Ben and I were in the water far away, we noticed that the Boat was turned ‘ON’ and being driven.”

The statement did not say who was at the wheel when the injury occurred.

The witnesses’ version of events corresponds to details provided by others who came upon the chaotic scene in the moments after the injury. Mike Murphy, a captain with a towing and salvage company, SeaTow, said he fished Urbelis and two other people out of the Harbor southwest of Spectacle Island, nearly a quarter-mile from the lawyer’s boat about 10 minutes after the initial distress call.

Messages sent to other passengers on board that day have gone unreturned. The witnesses’ statement did not say how or why the boat’s engines were started and its anchor raised after Berthiaume jumped into the water to retrieve something that had blown overboard.

Berthiaume’s arm got caught in the Chaparral 290 Signature’s propellers, which are below the boat’s swimming platform.

Rescuers responded to frantic 911 calls and mayday distress calls from the boat, applied a tourniquet and whisked Berthiaume to safety on a fire boat. An official last week said Berthiaume was in stable condition.

RelatedWoman hit by baseball bat in better condition, family says

Also see: Lightning Strikes

On board Urbelis’s 29-foot boat that day were four men in their 30s, including Urbelis, and nine women ages 19 to 22.

A police report also listed a teenage boy as a passenger, though a Boston police spokesman on Monday said that that was probably the result of a typographical error. A man with the same name is identified on Urbelis’s Instagram account, where he appears in photos both outside court and on the Naut Guilty, as Urbelis’s law intern. Public records indicate the man was born not in 1999 but in 1990.

Social media posts indicate that Urbelis owned the Naut Guilty for about two years and regularly hosted parties on board during the season.

Police said the Naut Guilty was well stocked with alcohol for the May 30 cruise. Urbelis allegedly failed a breathalyzer test, measuring .09 when he finally assented to one about four hours after the incident.

When Urbelis was arraigned a week ago, prosecutors described him as drunk and belligerent at the scene. Bail was set at $75,000.

Days later, his bail was reduced to $10,000, a move prosecutors agreed to “while the full extent of the defendant’s operation and control of the boat are under investigation,” according to Suffolk district attorney’s spokesman Jake Wark.

Prosecutors acknowledged at Urbelis’s arraignment that he was in the water when authorities arrived. Urbelis’s lawyer declined to comment for this story.

Murphy said he got to the chaotic scene at 7:56 p.m., about 10 minutes after hearing the mayday calls over the marine radio.

He approached the Naut Guilty, where a passenger told him there were people still in the water. The passenger leaped onto the SeaTow boat and directed Murphy to a man about an eighth of a mile from the boat, and then to three more people cold and clinging to a seat cushion. Urbelis was among the three passengers farthest from the Naut Guilty, Murphy said.

Murphy, who arrived after the injury, said he had no way to know how Urbelis had gotten so far from the boat, or when he was last on board. But he said the bizarre mayday calls over the marine radio — the speaker never said where the emergency was taking place, or what the problem was — “would make sense if the captain was in the water. Someone without any experience was on the radio.”

In an e-mail, Wark declined to discuss the alternative sequence of events, or the possibility that another driver could be charged.

“The investigation into the incident — including control and operation of the vessel — is still open,” Wark wrote. “The defendant is the only individual charged at this point, though naturally we foreclose no possibility until all the facts are in.”


Related: Charlestown lawyer charged in boating accident out on bail

Also see:

6-year-old found in pond dies

Body of missing boater found in lake

Second arrest made in boating incident that cost woman her arm

2 Boston men indicted in boat accident in which woman lost arm

One charge dropped against lawyer in boat accident