The 25-year-old man charged with boating while intoxicated in Monday’s crash on the Great South Bay that left his childhood friend “lost at sea” admitted to having “a few drinks,” was unsteady, had bloodshot eyes and smelled of alcohol, authorities said Tuesday.
Jack Benjamin, 25, of Farmingville, was driving the craft in the waters by Sayville when his 25-year-old friend, identified for the first time publicly as Nelson Matos of Farmingville, was ejected after the boat struck a jetty.
He refused to have his blood drawn for an alcohol analysis, according to a misdemeanor information filed in First District Court in Central Islip.
But authorities obtained a warrant and got his blood sample at 7:31 a.m. — about six hours after the crash, according to court documents. The results of the analysis are pending.
Benjamin told police, according to the court documents, that “he had a few drinks that evening and was driving everybody home.”
Benjamin, who according to his attorney had contusions, lacerations and bruising as a result of the crash, pleaded not guilty at his arraignment Tuesday afternoon. Bail was set at $50,000 cash, $100,000 bond or a $200,000 partially-secured bond, according to Sheila Kelly, a spokeswoman for the Suffolk County District Attorney’s office.
Matos was labeled in court documents as “a passenger lost at sea who is presumed to be dead” although Suffolk police are still searching for him.
Tuesday afternoon Nassau police reported that a body had been recovered from the waters off Sayville but they had no identification.
Benjamin was operating a 2003 Parker center console boat at 1:23 a.m. Monday when it struck one of the jetties at the end of Browns River Road in Sayville, police said.
The force of the collision threw Matosr, who was not wearing a life jacket, overboard, according to officials.
Suffolk police, the U.S. Coast Guard and personnel from multiple fire departments conducted a search for him, and the Suffolk police Marine Bureau continued search efforts Monday.
Benjamin and a female passenger were transported to South Shore University Hospital in Bay Shore, where they were treated for injuries sustained in the crash and released. Three other passengers escaped injury, police said.
Benjamin’s lawyer William Keahon, called the crash a “tragedy,” and said his client and Matos had attended school together beginning in kindergarten.
With Cecilia Dowd