Man to Change Plea in Boating Incident That Cost Teen Her Arm | NECN
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Man to Change Plea in Boating Incident That Cost Teen Her Arm

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    Nicole Berthiaume of Auburn, Massachusetts, lost her arm two years ago when a boat she had jumped from severed it. The boat's operator, Alexander Williams, is prepared to change his plea to guilty.

    (Published Thursday, April 6, 2017)

    A lawyer charged in a 2015 boating incident that severed a young woman's arm intends to change his plea to guilty.

    Nicole Berthiaume of Auburn, Massachusetts, was 19 at the time of the incident near Spectacle Island.

    "Yes, freak accidents happen all the time, but this was not a freak accident," she said in court, where 26-year-old Alexander Williams is expected to plead guilty.

    Berthiaume had pointed and emotional words Thursday. Prosecutors say she was one of 14 people on board the "Naut Guilty," owned by attorney Benjamin Urbelis, when she jumped in the water to get a seat cushion and a football that had blown off the boat. As she began drifting from the boat, Williams started the boat's engine to move closer to her, severing her arm and severely injuring her body.

    "I realized that although my mind was the same, I was not. I was a shell of a human being, a shell of who I was," Berthiaume said. "You will almost never hear my complain about my disability, but that does not mean that it doesn't kill me every time I look in a mirror."

    Williams was charged with negligent operation of a boat, furnishing alcohol to minors and tampering with evidence. As he planned to change his plea to guilty in exchange for his case being continued without finding, Berthiaume's parents explained how his poor choices changed their lives forever.

    "Because of their actions, first and foremost, my daughter Nicole is forever handicapped," her father, Lionel Berthiaume, said.

    "This incident shook our world," said her mother, Deborah DePasquale. "There was a line drawn in the sand that day. We knew her life would never be the same."

    Thursday's hearing was continued to April 13. But the judge expressed her intention to continue the case without finding, with no criminal record after two years. That's contingent upon Williams' guilty plea, his completion of 200 hours of community service at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital and paid restitution to Berthiaume and her family.

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