Rules to save lives never stop

Published on July 14th, 2020

A reminder that when boating, always have your head on a swivel and never forget a basic rule in the COLREGS, which are published by the International Maritime Organization for vessels at sea to prevent collisions:

“Every vessel shall at all times proceed at a safe speed so that she can take proper and effective action to avoid collision and be stopped within a distance appropriate to the prevailing circumstances and conditions.”

Here’s the reminder from Oshkosh, WI:

A judge denied a defense request on July 13 to dismiss two recently added counts filed in connection with a double-fatal boat crash in August 2018.

Brian Sullivan, 45, faces two counts of homicide by use of a vehicle while having a prohibited alcohol level for the August 18, 2018, crash in Lake Winnebago which killed Lauren Laabs, 26, and Cassandra Laabs, 20.

On June 29, prosecutors added two counts of homicide by intoxicated use of a vehicle. Those counts require the state to prove the vehicle operator was impaired, whereas the original counts require proof the defendant had a specific blood alcohol level.

The defense wanted either the new counts dismissed, or for a preliminary hearing to be held. Winnebago County Judge Scott Woldt ruled the new counts are permitted under the law, and denied the motions. Sullivan then entered not guilty pleas to the two new counts.

Trial is scheduled for September 14.

After the two boats collided, the sisters drowned after being thrown overboard. They were riding in a boat being operated by their father, Kim Laabs. They were not wearing life jackets.

According to the criminal complaint, Laabs and Brian Sullivan each say the other boat hit them. Both say they were drinking prior to the crash. Both also had blood alcohol tests, but only Sullivan was charged.

Sullivan said he had four beers, and stopped drinking a few hours before the crash. His blood test, taken more than an hour after the crash, showed a blood alcohol level of .093. Laabs’ blood test, taken about two hours after the crash, showed a BAC of .026, according to the complaint.

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