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Long Island Man Charged After Deadly Boating Accident

FREEPORT, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- A Long Island man faces several charges following a boating accident in Freeport.

Raymond Balboa, 53, of Baldwin was at the helm of a 50-foot Sea Ray boat with about 14 people on board Sunday evening when he stopped in Baldwin Bay for a short time so the passengers could go swimming, police said.

Long Island Man Charged After Deadly Boating Accident

Balboa ordered everyone back onto the boat and was apparently unaware that one of his passengers was still in the water when he started the engines, WCBS 880's Mike Xirinachs reported.

As Balboa began to navigate the boat, police said passenger Cesar Hernandez-Rodas, 34, of Bay Shore was struck by the propeller. Hernandez-Rodas was rushed to a nearby hospital where he died.

Long Island Man Charged After Deadly Boating Accident

Defense attorney Michael DerGarabedian insists that a witness saw Balboa following safety rules.

"Balboa did everything correctly – the boat was stopped, it was docked, he went around made sure everybody was in the boat," DerGarabedian said.

From the Levensons' backyard, the Freeport couple told CBS 2's Caroyn Gusoff they could see the horror unfold. They said Balboa pulled up to their dock for help.

"He was just beside himself, he was distraught," Betty Levenson said.

Levenson's husband Eugene said he could hear Balboa do a head count and tell his passengers to get out of the water before he started up the engine.

DerGarabedian claims that once the engines were fired up, the victim had apparently jumped off the boat into the propeller, 1010 WINS' Mona Rivera reported.

"I heard him ask 'is everybody on board,' count heads and everything," Eugene told Gusoff. "And I believe that the man who ended up being killed jumped off the boat when he was backing the boat up through no fault of his own."

Blood alcohol tests are not back yet, but police said Balboa showed signs of intoxication. He was arrested and charged with vehicular manslaughter, operating a vessel while intoxicated and operating an unregistered vessel.

Balboa denied drinking when speaking with responding officers, Gusoff reported.

"I didn't drink dude," Balboa said. "This whole thing is not me. I was trying to please other people. It's crazy, I can't believe it."

"If there was alcohol involved in this case, I don't think it contributed to this man's death," DerGarabedian said.

Balboa pleaded not guilty to the charges during his arraignment Monday at First District Court in Hempstead.

Bail was set at $50,000.

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