Boating Fatality Was No Crime
Manslaughter Charges Dismissed by Grand Jury
By Chau Lam NEWSDAY STAFF WRITER
A North Merrick man who drove his boat over a snorkeler and killed him last summer in South Oyster bay off Massapequa did not commit a crime, a Nassau grand jury concluded Thursday.
But the family of Brian Scutellaro, 38, who died after being struck by Michael Galante’s boat on Aug. 23, is considering suing. Scutellaro’s widow, Cathy Scutellaro, and other relatives were disappointed with the grand jury’s decision, said the family’s attorney, John Gianfortune of Rockville Centre Centre.
“They are just beside themselves,” Gianfortune said. “They are deeply saddened. They feel that it sends a terrible signal to boaters that they can act with reckless disregard for the safety of swimmers and other boaters.”
Galante, 39, has maintained the incident was a tragic accident, said his attorney William Petrillo of Rockville Centre Centre. “He is genuinely sorry for the family’s loss and wishes he could rid them of their pain,” Petrillo said. Galante was cleared of second-degree manslaughter and other related charges.
That Saturday Scutellaro was snorkeling with a friend in an area commonly known as Jones Bay , looking for crabs. Suddenly, Galante’s 24-foot boat sliced through the waters, hitting Scutellaro as it passed. After Galante was arrested, police said he was traveling at about 45 to 50 mph and less than 100 feet from the Scutellaros’ boat.
Galante said he was more than 150 feet away. According to New York navigation law, no boat should be operated within 100 feet of an “anchored or moored vessel at a speed exceeding five miles per hour…”