Friday, February 18, 2011

Ex-fire Captain Pleads Guilty To Fatal Boat Crash Charges

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United States (Virginia) - A holiday boat outing that turned into a late-night disaster fueled by alcohol and high speed resulted in multiple guilty pleas Thursday morning from a former Richmond Fire Department captain who was at the vessel's helm. Steven W. Nixon, 39, of Montpelier entered guilty pleas to six felonies and a single misdemeanor in a case that had been described as perhaps the worst boating accident ever encountered in Virginia by rescue workers and the U.S. Coast Guard.
Nixon, 39, will be sentenced May 3 and faces up to 66 years in prison.

Nixon's bond was revoked and he was led from the courtroom through a side door to jail as more than 40 family members and supporters were on hand. He had been free on bond since his arrest.

Lancaster Circuit Judge Harry T. Taliaferro said he was revoking bond because of the seriousness of the charges and the time that Nixon faces. The action came despite pleas from Nixon's lawyers that he needed time to prepare his family for his absence.

Nixon resigned his position with the Richmond Fire Department earlier this week, according to a spokesman. He had been a decorated firefighter with 19 years of service.

Lancaster County Commonwealth's Attorney C. Jeffers "Jeff" Schmidt Jr. detailed the horrific July 5 boating crash as one that left eight passengers injured and one dead, 25-year-old Amanda Brady. The fiancee of Nixon's brother, Brady was a teacher at Henrico's Longan Elementary School. Her last words were, "Watch Out!"

She was discovered the next morning by divers, drowned.

Injured passengers other than Nixon included Nixon's wife, a brother, a sister, and a cousin, as well as four children.

Nixon, his blood alcohol level nearly twice the legal limit from a day of drinking and partying with family members, steered his 23-foot Chaparral bow-rider into a concrete-based channel marker topped by a blinking red light visible from four miles away. The collision occurred a half mile offshore from Morattico.

Rescuers arrived at the Rappahannock River crash site shortly after 11 p.m. that Monday night, finding some 27 empty or filled beer cans aboard.

Nixon this morning pleaded guilty to six felonies: aggravated involuntary manslaughter, four counts of felony child abuse, and one count of maiming while intoxicated. He also was convicted of operating a boat while intoxicated.

Written by Richmond Times-Dispatch






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