Man Charged With Manslaughter Of Richmond Police Officer

July 9, 2007

The driver of the boat that killed a Richmond police officer and his girlfriend has been charged with vehicular manslaughter and boating while intoxicated.

Police say 32-year-old Craig Cordes of Syracuse had been at the controls of a motorboat Sunday when it broadsided and flew over the top of another boat on Skaneateles Lake, killing 32-year-old John Kelly, a Richmond police officer, and his girlfriend.

Cordes had stopped to rescue two friends who were ejected in the crash from his 19 foot ski boat around 2:40 a.m. Sunday. Officials say he then left without aiding the victims.

Kelly's girlfriend, 26-year-old Heather Wilkins, also of Richmond, died later at a Syracuse hospital from her injuries.

Sheriff Kevin Walsh says after the crash, Cordes drove four miles across the lake to his family's camp in Onondaga. Someone on his boat called 911 soon after the crash and when deputies went to the camp, Cordes' 25-year-old brother, Brian, told them he had been driving.

Walsh says Hours after his arrest, however, one of the three passengers on the boat told police that Craig Cordes had actually been at the controls.

The Coast Guard will be enlisted to try to determine how fast Cordes' boat, was traveling, the sheriff said, adding that there are no speed limits on Skaneateles Lake or most of the nation's lakes.

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