The Maryland lawmaker who said he was drinking alcohol while piloting a speed boat that collided with a vessel full of children, injuring four of them, did not have a recommended boater safety certificate, police said.
Del. Donald H. Dwyer Jr., an Anne Arundel County Republican and outspoken member of the House Judiciary Committee, was not required to have completed a state safety course. Maryland boaters born before 1972 are exempt. However, state authorities in recent years have recommended that all boaters take the eight-hour certification amid rising numbers of fatalities on Maryland waterways. Virginia is phasing in safety certification for all motor-boat operators.
On Friday, doctors were still monitoring the youngest of four children hospitalized following the Wednesday evening crash — a 5-year-old girl who authorities said suffered a fractured skull. She was thrown from the craft that collided with Dwyer’s boat in the Magothy River, about 5 miles north of Route 50 in Anne Arundel County.
Three other children, all under 13, were treated and released for cuts, bruises and a broken arm. A family member said Dwyer may need surgery, but declined to elaborate.
Authorities on Friday also identified a second adult who had been traveling on Dwyer’s 27-foot Baja, which the three-term delegate dubbed The Legislator.
The passenger was John E. Moran IV, a former police officer who narrowly lost an election for Anne Arundel County sheriff in 2006. Police declined to say whether Moran had also been drinking before the crash. He did not return messages Friday seeking comment.
Although results of a criminal investigation into the crash are weeks away, Dwyer’s admitted use of alcohol before the accident began to undermine his standing in Annapolis.
Dwyer appeared before reporters Thursday in a wheelchair, wearing a neck brace and said his blood-alcohol level had been 0.2, or more than twice the legal limit for operating a boat.
On Friday, Dwyer’s Republican colleagues in the House of Delegates issued a statement distancing themselves from his actions.
“While we appreciate Delegate Dwyer’s frankness in his statements, we are troubled by these circumstances,” said House Minority Leader Anthony J. O’Donnell (Calvert) and Minority Whip Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio (Talbot).
The statement said the Republican leadership would “refrain from any further comments” until the investigation is complete.
House Speaker Michael E. Busch (D-Anne Arundel) said there would be no meeting of the legislature’s Ethics Committee or recommendation on disciplinary action until the judicial process runs its course.
Maryland Natural Resources Department Police Sgt. Brian Albert said investigators will need weeks to reconstruct the accident and await blood tests to confirm whether Dwyer was under the influence.
Dwyer’s boat was gashed on the port side and sank. It and the smaller Bayliner that was carrying a Pasadena grandfather and his grandchildren have been towed to a state facility to complete the investigation.
There was no posted speed limit in the area of the accident. If Dwyer is found at fault, he could at most be charged with misdemeanors: negligence and operating a boat under the influence. Combined, the two charges carry maximum penalties of $1,500 and 13 months in prison.
Under Maryland law, only boating accidents that result in deaths can be charged as felonies.
Jennifer Jenkins contributed to this report.