A Mississippi man who was found guilty of manslaughter following a DUI boating accident that killed his father and another man was sentenced to 26 years in prison on Monday. Brad Hardy, 31, was convicted in Rankin County last week for deaths of his father, Mikeal Hardy, 60, and Roger Gipson, 48. He was also convicted of aggravated assault for injuring another man in the boat accident.
According to prosecutors, Hardy crashed into several other vessels while trying to splash other people with his own boat during Memorial Day weekend at a sandbar on the Pearl River, an area known for fishing and water skiing in central Mississippi. However, Hardy’s lawyers claim that it was equipment failure with the steering wheel that caused the boat crash.
It’s hard to say how much of the incident was equipment failure and how much was intoxication. Hardy’s blood alcohol level an hour and a half after the accident was .09 percent, slightly above the legal limit of .08 percent. He also has three prior DUIs from the 1990s.
In court, Hardy contended he did not try to splash anyone.
“Only me and God really know what happened,” Hardy said.
Yet, Rankin County Circuit Court Judge William Chapman wasn’t convinced of the performance.
“This defendant is emotional, but it is not any remorse for what he has done. He’s emotional because he’s getting ready to go to the penitentiary,” Chapman said.
Chapman said he believed the testimony at trial that Hardy was trying to splash people with the boat.
“You chose to drink and operate that boat the way you did. There was nothing wrong with the boat, there was something wrong with the operator,” Chapman said.
Lt. Randy Newell of the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks corroborated the notion that Hardy was trying to splash people. He said that Hardy had been speeding toward the sandbar and tried to plash his father, having already done a similar act earlier in the day.
Hardy was sentenced to 18 years for Gipson’s death and eight years for injuring William Hulett. However, the judge said Hardy would make the ultimate decision on whether he spends time in jail over the death of his father and gave Hardy an 18-year suspended sentence for his father’s death.
Boating accidents happen quite frequently, sometimes due to the pilot’s negligence while other times due to unforeseen circumstances like unfavorable weather conditions. Unfortunately, not many people know that it is against the law to operate a boat while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. A DUI can be issued to anyone operating a motor vehicle, including a vessel. Anyone who has been injured or lost someone they love because of a drunken boater is entitled to seek legal help immediately. If this has happened to you, turn to maritime law firm Lipcon, Margulies & Winkleman, P.A. immediately to file a case and protect your rights.
With over 165 years of combined experience in representing victims at sea, our maritime attorneys work diligently to secure you and your loved ones the compensation you deserve and will see to it that anyone who is guilty of negligence or wrongdoing in your case is held liable for your injuries or losses. Call our admiralty firm today to discuss your options and get started on your case.