Boats Collide in Anne Arundel County

State delegate admits drinking before operating boat

A Maryland lawmaker on Thursday acknowledged that he had been drinking alcohol before operating a motorboat that collided with another vessel, injuring himself and five others, and that his blood alcohol content was more than twice the legal limit.

Delegate Don Dwyer, an Anne Arundel County Republican known as one of the most conservative lawmakers in Annapolis, said that he regretted his actions, adding that no one should ever drink and operate a motor vehicle or powerboat.

Three children were among those hospitalized after the collision Wednesday evening in the Magothy River, which flows into the Chesapeake Bay. The legal limit in Maryland for operating a boat is the same as for a car, .08.

“It is true that I was drinking while operating my boat yesterday,” Dwyer said at news conference he gave from a wheelchair outside Maryland Shock Trauma in Baltimore. “It's also been reported that my blood alcohol content was .2. No one, no one should be drinking and operating a motor vehicle or power boat.”

Dwyer declined to explain his remark about his blood alcohol content, but later issued a statement saying, “My blood alcohol level was 0.2, and no one should be driving a boat while drinking.

“The information is on the record, so I'm sure you'll find that's what it is,” Dwyer said.

Dwyer and five others, including three children, were hospitalized after the accident on the Magothy River near Gibson Island in Anne Arundel County. None of the injuries was considered to be life-threatening on Thursday.


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“I deeply regret my actions, and I ask for forgiveness from the public,” Dwyer said, before going back into the hospital. “My heart and prayers go out to the family that was involved in the incident, and I pray for them to have a speedy recovery.”

Earlier in the day, a police spokesman said a blood sample had been taken from Dwyer, because investigators believed alcohol could have been a factor.

Capt. Jerry Kirkwood, a spokesman for the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, said it was too soon to talk about charges, because information was still being gathered. Kirkwood did say that Dwyer was the only person involved in the accident from whom a blood sample was taken.

Dwyer was operating a 26-foot Baja motorboat, which sank after the collision. Another adult was on board. The other boat, an 18-foot Bayliner, was carrying five children and two adults.

Injuries in the accident included broken bones and bruises.

“All indications are that they're going to recover from their injuries,” Kirkwood said.

Three children -- ages 5, 7 and 12 -- were hospitalized at Baltimore-area hospitals. Kirkwood said a 5-year-old girl was scheduled to be released as soon as Thursday. The 12-year-old boy was released earlier in the day, and the 7-year-old boy has a broken arm and was expected to stay overnight.

Investigators were still working to determine the cause. People who saw the accident Wednesday night on the Magothy River assisted those involved.

“Right now, (police) are in the process of continuing to interview the folks who were on the boat, folks that were on shore, the good Samaritans, anybody that saw anything,” Kirkwood said.

Kirkwood noted that there was no speed limit in the area of the river where the accident happened. He also said it was a nice evening with good visibility.

Dwyer, who has been a member of the House of Delegates since 2003, is known for being one of the most conservative lawmakers in Annapolis. In 2010, he sought impeachment proceedings against Attorney General Doug Gansler because of his opinion regarding the recognition of same-sex marriages in other states. The effort was rejected.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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