QUEENSBURY — The mother of boat crash victim Charlotte McCue testified Monday in the case of the man accused of killing her, tearfully telling the jury of the moments when her daughter was killed and she was seriously hurt.
Courtney McCue cried on-and-off during her testimony, but also became angry at one point as Warren County District Attorney Kate Hogan apologized for having to show her graphic photos of injuries.
Her comment, “Me too, God dammit,” seemed directed at having to testify and relive the night’s events that killed 8-year-old Charlotte and left McCue herself with three broken vertebrae, a broken hip and cuts to the bone on her side.
She told of still having bruises nearly 9 months later where her daughter’s head lay, and not being able to play with her children or play tennis as she did.
When McCue was shown a picture of her leg injury, she remarked about its significance.
“That’s where my daughter’s head was when it was crushed,” she said in a low voice.
She said she was knocked to the boat’s floor after the other boat came over the top of the Gar Wood antique boat she and her family were in.
“I remember screaming, ‘Oh my God, oh my God,’ “ McCue recalled.
McCue told the panel that her daughter was asleep, her head in her lap as the boats hit, but she could not say from where the other boat came. West had his head bowed for a period of time as she told of efforts to revive her gravely injured daughter.
McCue testified for about 20 minutes in the trial of Alexander M. West, the Lake George man accused of manslaughter and lesser charges for the crash last July 25 on Lake George, after the annual Log Bay Day party on the lake’s east shore.
He is accused of boating while impaired by alcohol and illegal drugs and violating Navigation Law when his boat collided with one driven by Courtney’s father, Robert Knarr.
The jury also saw the surveillance video that police recovered from a lakeside home in the days after the crash, which police said showed the collision. It shows two lights colliding, then both slowly lingering in the area.
It also shows both boats moving to the right, which would be southbound, on the screen, one going significantly faster than the other.
It was unclear whether the slower boat was also heading west, toward Knarr’s boathouse, based on the video angle.
Photos introduced earlier in the day also seemed to show the damage on Knarr’s boat came from an angle, instead of straight on from the side.
At what angle the boats hit is a crucial part of the case, as it will help determine which boat had the right of way.
The prosecution claims it was an “overtaking,” where the faster boat, West’s craft, should have yielded to Knarr’s boat, but the defense believes Knarr was headed west, so he should have yielded to the southbound boat.
A friend of West’s who attended the Log Bay Day festivities on his boat took the stand Monday as well, telling the jury that he saw the defendant drink a beer earlier in the day, but wasn’t with him much of the day.
That friend, Matt Peterson, said that a boat passenger who had not been drinking that day drove West’s boat from the bay when they were leaving.
Peterson also said that West had two vodka “Moscow Mule” drinks at The Huddle restaurant after they left the bay, though defense lawyer Cheryl Coleman pointed out that he told the grand jury that indicted West that he had one of the drinks that night. He also said he did not see West use drugs that day, though he talked of “smoking.”
The jury also heard Monday morning from two friends of West’s, to whose house he and his friends went after the crash to get a ride home.
Both said West did not appear to be intoxicated when he and friends arrived at their house around 10 p.m. July 25. That was a half-hour or so after the collision and after they had left their boat at Tea Island Resort on Lake George.
One of the friends, Kyle Schoonover, told of giving West and four people with him a ride to a home in Kingsbury later that night.
He was shown that he had previously told police the group did seem “intoxicated,” but he clarified Monday that that conclusion came from his knowledge they had been at the annual Log Bay Day party.
Schoonover and roommate Michael Kenny said something seemed amiss about the group, with Schoonover saying he didn’t believe West’s story about running out of gas.
“I had this uncomfortable feeling the whole ride that something was going on,” Schoonover said.
Coleman was admonished by Hall before the jury arrived Monday for tactics from earlier in the trial, including comments made before the jury and for bringing a drug testing kit into court and placing it before a witness without court permission. She also sparred with Warren County sheriff’s Investigator Russ Lail about his boating accident report.
In the report, Lail noted alcohol was a factor for West, but not for Knarr, leading to Coleman reiterating to the jury that Knarr initially refused to take a breath test at Glens Falls Hospital. He later did, though, and police have said there was no indication he was under the influence at the time of the collision.
Testimony in the trial is continuing at 10 a.m. Tuesday. Hogan said her office may wrap up its case on Thursday.