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Tragic Boat Accident on the Boston Harbor

A surge of boaters took to the Boston Harbor this weekend to relax and celebrate the beautiful weather. Unfortunately, celebrations turned to disaster when 19 year old Auburn resident, Nicole Berthiaume, fell overboard near Spectacle Island and was severely injured on Saturday night. A 33 year old Charlestown lawyer who specializes in DUI defense was charged with operating under the influence (OUI) when the Coast Guard responded to an emergency call from the “Naut Guilty” just before 8:00 p.m. that night. Benjamin Urbelis was placed under arrest by the Massachusetts Environmental Police.

According to Coast Guard Petty Officer Lanola Stone, the young woman’s “arm was severed just below the shoulder,” when she jumped off the anchored boat to retrieve a seat cushion. She sustained injuries to her face and abdomen as well. Fortunately, the Coast Guard response boat was nearby when the Mayday call came in. The Coast Guard and Boston Fire arrived quickly to the scene. Department Lieutenant Charlie Popp and the crew of the department’s firefighting and rescue boat raced toward Spectacle Island after the 911 call was placed. “We were very fortunate,” stated Popp. “It’s the first one I’m aware of recently with injuries this severe where everything worked out well.”

DUI Defense Attorney Arrested for Operating Under the Influence -Urbelis was arrested by the Massachusetts Environmental Police and is being charged with operating a boat under the influence and reckless operation of the vessel. According to the police report, Urbelis refused sobriety tests at first. However, after a four hour wait he submitted to a breath test. His BAC at the time was 0.09, still over the legal limit for Massachusetts. A Suffolk County prosecutor stated that Urbelis was “drunk and belligerent” while being interviewed by police following the incident.

During an inspection of the 29-foot powerboat, many of the sobbing passengers were individually questioned. The passengers included nine young women between the ages of 19 and 22 and four men in their 30s. Apparently, several on board jumped in to save the victim. According to witnesses, the boat was speeding and driving erratically prior to the accident.  As the Boston Fire Department’s rescue boat approached the Naut Guilty, the crew saw frantic waving and heard passengers yelling, “Hurry! Hurry!”

In addition to being a criminal defense attorney, Urbelis is also part owner of a Boston bar and owns a “nightlife consulting” company, according to his website. Urbelis pleaded not guilty on Monday, and is being held on $75,000 bail.

Altman & Altman, LLP – Boston Law FirmThe MA Law Firm of Altman & Altman, LLP has been protecting the rights of Massachusetts residents for nearly 50 years. Whether you seek legal counsel for on-the-job injuries, medical malpractice, vehicle accidents, or criminal charges, we can help you determine the best way to move forward. Our dedicated legal team will fight aggressively to protect your rights and obtain the most favorable outcome for your unique situation. Contact the Greater Boston Law Firm of Altman & Altman LLP for a free consultation about your case.