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Teen pleads guilty in deadly boat accident

Posted at 3:23 PM, May 24, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-25 08:01:50-04

An 18-year-old has pleaded guilty in connection to a fatal boat accident last summer that killed his 16-year-old girlfriend.

Gregory Green pleaded guilty Tuesday to second degree vehicular manslaughter and criminal negligent homicide. He could face up to seven years in jail when he is sentenced in August.

Green was 17-years-old last summer when his girlfriend, Avery Gardner of Lockport, was killed in a boating accident.

Prosecutors say Green, Gardner and 51-year-old Timothy Wisniewski went out on the boat around 6:45 in the morning on June 11, 2015 after a night of drinking. The three brought beer and marijuana for the boat ride, according to prosecutors.

Prosecutors say Green was recklessly driving the boat at a high rate of speed on Ellicott Creek.

"[Green] had a B.A.C. of .15 percent, which is nearly twice the legal limit of intoxication for an adult, and he was impaired by a high level of marijuana.  He did this all while operating a boat at a high rate of speed and in a reckless manner," said Assistant District Attorney Kelly Omel during arraignment proceedings in NYS Supreme Court in Buffalo.

Gardner stood up while the boat was moving and hit her head on a bridge abutment. After she hit her head, other passengers in the boat flagged down people on the nearby road for help and ran the boat ashore. Gardner died of her injuries.

Prosecutors say Green changed his story about what happened.

"He told different people different things and lied about it," said Omel in court.

Green spoke to 7 Eyewitness News a week after the accident.

"I look for her every day, I'm lost without her. I don't even know what to do. It will probably end up going right back up to be honest," Green said.

Wisniewski, who allegedly had a BAC of .13 percent and was under the influence of pills and marijuana, is charged with criminally negligent homicide, two counts of operating a vessel while under the influence of alcohol, endangering the welfare of a child and unlawful possession of marijuana.

Prosecutors say Wisniewski has a long criminal history that includes convictions of robbery, petit larceny, aggravated harassment and DWI. As a second felony offender, if convicted, he faces a mandatory sentence of up to four years in prison.

Green and Wisniewski were charged following eight months of investigation by Town of Tonawanda Police, New York Police, and the Erie County Sheriff's Office. Authorities say the investigation involved "hundreds of man hours" including exhaustive interviews and accident reconstruction techniques.