Mass. Man Charged in Fatal RI Boat Crash

A May 16th boat crash at Despair Island resulted in the deaths of 2 woman, and now a man accused of operating the vessel has surrendered to police. Here's ABC6 Reporter Paul Mueller with a look inside the investigation, as well as an earlier report by ABC6 Anchor Andrew Gobeil, detailing today's events in court.

PROVIDENCE – The Department of Environmental Management today filed six charges against the operator of the vessel involved in the May 16 early-morning fatal boating collision on Despair Island.  

Matthew Fortin, age 27, of New Bedford, MA, turned himself in to officers from DEM's Division of Law Enforcement this morning at the Division's Wickford Marine Base.  Fortin was then taken to Newport District Court for arraignment.

The charges include five felony counts and one misdemeanor. Fortin is charged with two counts of operating a watercraft under the influence-death resulting, two counts of reckless operation-death resulting and one count of reckless operation-serious bodily injury resulting. The felony count of reckless operation-serious bodily injury resulting refers to the injury suffered by Joel J. Mayer, 24, a passenger on the boat. Mayer, of Cumberland, suffered a broken leg. The misdemeanor count is refusing to submit to a chemical test.  The RI Attorney General's Office will prosecute the charges.

Two 23 year-old Massachusetts women, Alesia Ann DeSa of Dighton and Kaylee A. Therrien of Assonet, died in the collision.  The fifth passenger on the boat was Janet Bernardo, 24, of New Bedford.

The 22' vessel is owned by Richard Cromwell of Freedom Boat Club in Portsmouth, RI.  The vessel was impounded for evidence by DEM's Division of Law Enforcement.