Blizzard Found Guilty in Fatal Boat Crash

Concord — March 18, 2010 — Jurors convicted Erica Blizzard of negligent homicide for failing to keep a proper lookout but were unable to reach verdicts on the more serious charge of negligent homicide by intoxication for the fatal boat crash she had in 2008 .

The jury was also unable to reach a verdict on the third charge, aggravated driving while intoxicated.

Blizzard faces 3 1/2 years in state prison on her one conviction. Prosecutors can retry her on the other two charges but did not say immediately whether they will. She will be sentenced on April 21.

The Belknap County Superior Court jury of five women and seven men returned its verdicts at 11:30 a.m. after about 9 ½ hours of deliberations over two days. Jurors heard from 23 witnesses over about six days of testimony, much of it focused on Blizzard’s alcohol consumption prior to the crash and her speed at the time of crash.

Jurors indicated on Tuesday, the first day of deliberations, that they were having trouble reaching unanimous verdicts. They asked Judge Kathleen McGuire what to do if they could not reach a verdict.

McGuire told them Tuesday to continue talking but not to agree to a verdict they could not accept. She told them if they were unable to reach verdicts, the case could be retried – but likely on the same evidence they had heard.

The jury raised a similar question this morning, just before delivering their verdict. Jurors did not deliberate Wednesday because one of them had a conflict. They resumed deliberations this morning at 9 a.m.

Blizzard, 36, of Laconia, admitted on the stand that she was piloting her 37-foot performance boat on Lake Winnipesaukee when she slammed it into Diamond Island at 2:30 a.m. on June 15, 2008. She had two best friends with her, 34-year-old Stephanie Beaudoin of Meredith, who died, and 36-year-old Nicole Shinopulos, whose jaw was fractured.

But she adamantly disputed allegations she was intoxicated at the time or that she failed to keep a proper lookout. Blizzard and other witnesses testified that she consumed 3 ½ mixed drinks with an appetizer and supper over about five hours before hitting Diamond Island.

Blizzard told jurors the crash was an accident caused by a storm that caught Blizzard and her passengers by surprise shortly. She said she used precautions by slowing down and using her depth finder to gauge where she was on the lake.

When the rainy dark night made it impossible to still see the familiar navigation lights on land and the lake, Blizzard unknowingly ventured off course. That’s when she hit Diamond Island, she said.

Blizzard Found Guilty in Fatal Boat Crash

4 thoughts on “Blizzard Found Guilty in Fatal Boat Crash

  • March 18, 2010 at 4:00 pm

    Obviously, this is “no win” for anybody and everybody involved. It may be difficult to enforce speed limits on waterways, but the mere fact that they exist may cause some boaters to exercise greater caution.

  • March 18, 2010 at 5:52 pm

    I grew up on the big lake and I have to say that it was a lot like the ocean, one minute friendly and the next like an unhappy woman. I have been out in the “Broads”, the big part of the lake for you from parts unaware, and it can change 180 deg. in a heart beat. While it was a tragic situation, anyone who has ventured out into the “Broads” with any regularity, should be able to put themselves in the similar situations. It is truly unfortunate that Ms Blizzard was not going slower as the conditions seem to indicate but anyone, if they are honest, can admit to not showing the best of judgement on occasion, ” I know the lake!!!!”. More often than not, there is no consequece, unfortunately, sometimes there is. I never thought that I would see the day when I was in favor of someone having to take a test in order to pilot a boat but after seeing the number of folks, who have no idea as to how to dock a 15′ boat, I have to say that it has become a necessity. I grew up learing how to handle a boat that had 7HP and grew through the years to having a commercial boat driving license, in order to teach waterskliing, to a boat with twin engines in my later years. Now, you see what money brings when just because someone who can afford to buy a high powered boat, that they can’t handle, do.
    I feel sorry for the family of the girl that was killed and for Ms Blizzard, as she has to live with the memory of what took the life of one her best friends. I don’t think that any of us could live with that!
    Jim Shuff

  • March 19, 2010 at 11:47 pm

    No boat can be piloted safely at night above headway speed on our lakes. What moron would risk killing a swimmer or canoe paddler like this, let alone injuring or killing your own passengers?

  • March 20, 2010 at 7:37 am

    What moron would do this?
    Well we have found the answer to that question…the rich & spoiled child of a big shot Winni marina owner! And alcohol and the result is tragedy. What really troubles me is the striking resemblance and attitudes displayed by both Blizzard and the other Winni killer, Danny Littlefield. Both are monied children of large Winni marina owners, both were drunk the night they took innocent lives, both were travelling in obscenely large and overpowered vessels and both were travelling too fast for the conditions. Thankfully both are now convicted felons and hopefully, once the sentence is announced on April 21, we can say that both spent terms in State prison for their needless crimes!

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