Say Friend Drove Vessel While Drunk
An afternoon boat ride off the Long Island coast came to a deadly end for a Ridgewood man who fell overboard and drowned last Thursday, Aug. 9-and his friend was charged with operating the boat while intoxicated, law enforcement sources said.
The victim, identified by the Nassau County Police Department (NCPD) as Stanislaw Nawrocki, 56, of Forest Avenue, was reportedly pulled off the waters of East Rockaway early last Friday morning, Aug. 10, during a search by the NYPD Harbor Unit, the NCPD and the Coast Guard.
Authorities said Nawrocki and a friend-Janusz Sowa, 54, who is homeless-met outside the Forest Avenue train station in Ridgewood at around noon last Thursday and then drove out to the Crows Nest Marina in Oceanside to take a boat ride.
While on the boat in the East Rockaway Inlet, according to information provided by the Nassau County District Attorney’s office, Nawrocki let Sowa get behind the wheel of the vessel to teach him out to operate it. Shortly thereafter, it was reported, they encountered strong currents which resulted in the victim being thrown overboard.
In statements made to police, according to the criminal complaint, Sowa claimed that Nawrocki disappeared in the waves. Sowa reportedly navigated the boat back to the Oceanside marina.
Officers with the NCPD Fourth Precinct responded to the location and questioned Sowa. They reportedly observed him exhibiting various signs of intoxication, including a strong odor of alcohol, slurred speech, glassy eyes and unsteadiness.
Law enforcement sources said Sowa admitted during questioning to drinking vodka before driving the boat. He was taken into custody on charges of operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol. Other charges are pending the results of an ongoing investigation.
Prosecutors noted that Sowa was previously convicted in St. Lucie County, Fla. in 2006 of driving while intoxicated.
The suspect was arraigned in Nassau County Criminal Court last Friday and ordered held on $100,000 bond or $50,000 cash.