Could a judge rule out speed as factor in fatal 2016 Passaic County boat crash?




  • In US
  • 2022-08-05 08:22:03Z
  • By The Bergen Record

The attorney for a Bergen County man accused of killing one person and injuring another in a West Milford boat crash will look to strike testimony of speed as a factor in the case, which could play a pivotal role in the future of the court proceedings.

Shawn J. Kelly, 44 at the time of his arrest in 2018, is accused of slamming his 20-foot Wellcraft into another boat, an 18-foot Bayliner, on the evening of Sept. 5, 2016, killing Edwin Lane. Authorities said he did not stop after allegedly hitting the other boat.

Kelly, a former Paramus firefighter, was investigated for two years before he was indicted and he pleaded not guilty in February 2019 to second-degree charges of death by vessel and leaving the scene of a boating accident resulting in death. He also faces charges of leaving the scene of a boating accident resulting in serious bodily injury and assault by vessel.

Kelly's attorney, Patrick Jennings, filed a suppression motion this summer in order to stop any opinion testimony from anyone, including the victims and expert testimony, on how fast either boat was going at the time of the crash.

Shawn J.
Shawn J.  

Jennings did not respond to calls and emails for comment. Deputy Assistant Prosecutor Jason Statuto, who previously handled the case for Passaic County, did not respond to a request for comment.

The motion will be heard before a Passaic County Superior Court on Oct. 14.

The crash

Four people were on the Bayliner at the time of the crash - Edwin Lane, his wife Mary, and Eileen and Robert Roon. Edwin Lane suffered a head injury and died a month after the accident. Robert Roon also had serious injuries but survived.

Following a hearing after Kelly's arrest, Edwin Lane's widow spoke to NorthJersey.com. She said despite the 23-month wait, she always had faith that the investigators would bring someone to justice.

Asked what a just end to the case might be, she said the defendant should receive "some jail time."

Kelly was a prime suspect almost immediately after the start of the investigation. The Wellcraft was seen by a local marina operator with hull scratches, propeller damage and transfer paint below the water, according to court documents. Additionally, the boat was sitting low in the water.

At the time of Kelly's not guilty plea, there was a plea offer on the table - three years in prison for pleading guilty to the second-degree charges. Kelly's former attorney had said a decision was premature as they had not even finished with the discovery process.

This article originally appeared on NorthJersey.com: Passaic County NJ boat crash: Judge could rule speed as factor

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