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Two men charged over deaths of woman and boy, seven, in New York boating accident

Picture shows the capsized boat in the Hudson River  (The United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York)
Picture shows the capsized boat in the Hudson River (The United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York)

Two men have been charged over the deaths of a woman and a child who were killed when their boat capsized in the Hudson River off Manhattan.

Richard Cruz, 32, and Jamie Pinilla Gomez, 25, are accused of causing the deaths after the overloaded vessel they were travelling in flipped over near Pier 86 in July 2022.

Lindelia Vasquez, 48, and 7-year-old Julian Vasquez, both from Colombia, were part of a group of family and friends who chartered a boat from New Jersey on 12 July 2022.

The United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York said Mr Cruz was the owner and captain of the vessel, while Mr Gomez was the pilot.

Both men are believed to have been operating the boat, which had 13 people on board when it capsized, despite not possessing the required United States Coast Guard (USCG) credentials and certifications.

US Attorney Damian Williams said the suspects “flouted” federal safety regulations and “recklessly disregarded safety protocols” by operating the vessel “at an unsafe speed in hazardous conditions” and overloading the boat “with too many passengers onboard.”

Mr Gomez is also accused of “rapidly accelerating one engine of the vessel immediately before the capsizing, which contributed to the overturning of the vessel,” as well as failing to “properly wear a safety device that should be worn around the pilot’s wrist or life vest.”

Picture shows the capsized boat in the Hudson River (The United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York)
Picture shows the capsized boat in the Hudson River (The United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York)

The US Attorney’s office said this “contributed to the vessel’s engine continuing to operate even after Gomez shifted from the helm console” where the boat was being operated.

Rear Admiral John Mauger said the case “demonstrates the deadly consequences of illegal passenger operations.”

“The Coast Guard and our partners from the US Attorney’s Office affirm our steadfast commitment to preventing similar tragedies by investigating and holding violators accountable. We urge the public to assist in this detection and deterrence by notifying the Coast Guard of vessel owners and operators suspected of engaging in illegal passenger operations.” he continued.

All 13 people on board the boat were thrown overboard before a rescue mission was launched. Two of them were left in a critical condition.

Ten passengers were recovered conscious, while the two victims were found unconscious underneath the vessel and later pronounced dead.

All 13 people on board the boat were thrown overboard during the capsizing (The United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York)
All 13 people on board the boat were thrown overboard during the capsizing (The United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York)

Both Cruz and Gomez have been charged with one count of misconduct and neglect of a ship officer resulting in death each, which carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.

The small jet boat, named Stimulus Money, was purchased by Mr Cruz approximately three months before the capsizing and was used to conduct “tours” of the Hudson River on multiple occasions in the months before the incident, according to the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York.

New York mayor Eric Adams paid tribute to the victims at the time, calling the incident “devastating.”

“Our hearts go out to a group of people who were just using the water in our city,” he said. “This is a devastating moment for them and those who are part of the families that were there.”