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Two charged in boat accident that killed teen

Posted at 12:07 PM, Feb 29, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-02 09:20:41-05

Two men have been charged in connection to a fatal boat accident last summer that killed a 16-year-old girl from Lockport.

Prosecutors say 51-year-old Timothy Wisniewski went out on his boat with Gardner and her boyfriend Gregory Green 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, who was 17 at the time of the incident, 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 has been charged with criminally negligent homicide, three counts of second degree vehicular manslaughter, two counts of operating a vessel while under the influence of alcohol, and acting in a manner injurious to a child less than 17. He faces up to seven years in prison convicted.

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.

Both men pleaded not guilty in court Monday afternoon. Green is being held on $15,000 bail and $10,000 bail for Wisniewski.

Green was Gardner's boyfriend and 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.