New York: 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
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.