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US: Indian-American physiotherapist dies in boat crash

Source: PTI
July 04, 2010 20:21 IST
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A 30-year old Indian-American man, who was set to tie the knot next month, died in a tragic boat accident near the Statue of Liberty while on a holiday.

Jijo Puthuvamkunnath, having origins in Kerala, died and two others were injured when two pleasure crafts collided, in an accident being blamed on a person operating the vessel under the influence of alcohol.

The collision happened on Friday evening when a 30-foot boat, apparently being driven by a man who was intoxicated, slammed into a smaller boat, police said, according to New York Times.

The three victims were on a 19-foot Bayliner near the Statue of Liberty when the 30-foot Pro-Line vessel struck, splitting the smaller boat in two.

Puthuvamkunnath was trapped in the mangled boat and was died of severe brain and head injuries at the hospital after rescuers pulled him out.

Puthuvamkunnath, who had just finished his doctorate degree in physical therapy, was set to marry on August 28.

"It's "really, really tragic," said Sally Rivera, a neighbour of the victim. His family is devastated by the loss.

"He was a very, very wonderful young man... He was loved by everybody," his aunt Aleyamma Varughese was quoted as saying.

Richard Aquilone, 39, of Jersey City, who was behind the wheels on the bigger boat was unharmed along with his wife and three children.

Police arrested Aquilone, who failed the Breathalyzer test, and charged him with vehicular manslaughter, operating a vessel under the influence of alcohol and endangering the welfare of a child, the paper said.

Fighting back tears, a cousin of the victim told the Times that he is not angry with the person found responsible, but disappointed that he did not think twice before getting behind the wheel.

The people who knew Aquilone were also shocked by the incident and said he never showed any signs of alcohol abuse.



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