A Seaport businessman who crashed his powerboat in Boston Harbor this summer has been charged with involuntary manslaughter and assault in the death of a passenger who was thrown overboard and drowned, officials said Thursday.
Ryan Denver, 38, was at the wheel of his boat, named “Make it Go Away,” when it struck a fixed navigational marker off Castle Island around 2:50 a.m. on July 17. The 37-foot-long vessel hit the large marker head on “with such destructive force” that the boat sank, sending Denver and seven passengers into the water, prosecutors said.
Denver and six other passengers were rescued. The body of Jeanica Julce, 27, was recovered around 10 a.m.
In a brief telephone interview, Julce’s father, Wilfrid, said he believed Denver should be prosecuted criminally for his daughter’s death but did not think he meant to harm his daughter or the other passengers.
“I don’t think he went out there and wanted to kill the people,” Julce said. “I don’t know if he [was] drunk or not, but [he] is not a responsible driver ... I don’t know the guy, to be honest with you. I don’t know what kind of guy he is.”
Julce said he will follow the criminal case to learn more about the circumstances of his daughter’s death, which neither he nor his family have come to terms with.
“It’s been tough because she was only 27 years old and full of life,” he said. “She was the one who took care of everything. She always there for me. It’s definitely the the big empty space.”
Julce said that his daughter’s closet is still filled with her clothes.
“I cannot even look, go in there. Everything’s there,” he said.
Denver is scheduled to be arraigned in Suffolk Superior Court Nov. 19. The charge of involuntary manslaughter carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison but can also lead to a sentence of probation. Five passengers were hospitalized for their injuries, and Denver is charged with three counts of aggravated assault and battery by means of a dangerous weapon, the boat, and two counts of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, prosecutors said.
Denver’s lawyer, Michael J. Connolly, said the crash was an accident and that Denver continues to mourn the loss of Julce, whom he considered a close friend. Denver was sober at the time of the crash, was operating at an “appropriate” speed, and hit a buoy that was not illuminated because it was designed to guide boats during daylight hours, he said in a statement.
“We are dismayed that the District Attorney’s Office has nonetheless chosen to indict Ryan, based on unreliable data, in what amounts to a serious overcharge by that office,” Connolly said. “Ryan did everything in his power to assist them [passengers] until first responders arrived on the scene. Ryan Denver is an admired businessman ... who has given back to the community in many ways. He should not be subjected to criminal charges as a result of this terrible accident.”
Julce was devoted to dance and her family, loved to travel and be with friends, and had family across the country, as well as in Haiti and Canada, relatives said. She was planning to open her own dance studio.
“Jeanica was a vibrant young woman with a beautiful life ahead of her. She deserved better than to lose everything because of another individual’s recklessness,” said Suffolk District Attorney Rachael Rollins. “That her life ended in this manner is heartbreaking.”
Mike Bello of the Globe staff contributed to this report.