Nurse: Boater wanted to switch blood samples

Posted Sept. 12, 2008, at 2:50 p.m.

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — A Massachusetts man accused of recklessness in a boat collision that killed two people on a Maine lake told wardens he’d been operating at 45 mph when he hit something. Later, a nurse testified, he asked her to switch blood samples at the hospital.

Robert LaPointe initially had to convince wardens that he’d truly run over something. One of them questioned whether he’d fallen out of his boat while horsing around on Long Lake in Harrison.

“I’m telling you right now there’s something out there,” LaPointe’s excited voice was heard on a recording played for the Cumberland County Superior Court jury. “All right, ‘cuz it cut right in front of us and we just all of a sudden, we’re talking, all of a sudden, ‘Vroom!’ And it threw us right out of the boat.”

On Friday, a nursing supervisor from Bridgton Hospital testified that LaPointe confided to her he’d been drinking heavily over the course of the day and made a quiet gesture to her suggesting that she draw her own blood instead of his to be submitted for a laboratory analysis.

Marlene Fillebrown said LaPointe initially balked at giving consent to the blood test, telling her, “I’ve been drinking all day, stopped for an hour and then drank six more beers.”

Asked whether she thought LaPointe was joking at any point during their interaction, she said he was not. “He appeared scared and anxious,” Fillebrown said.

The blood sample, taken three hours after the crash, showed that LaPointe’s blood-alcohol content was 0.11 percent, higher than the 0.08 percent limit for driving.

LaPointe, 39, of Medway, Mass., wiped away tears Friday as a state medical examiner described the deaths of Terry Raye Trott, 55, of Harrison, and Suzanne Groetzinger, 44, of Berwick.

Groetzinger was killed instantly when a boat propeller struck her and nearly decapitated her, while Trott also suffered gruesome propeller cuts and died from a combination of injuries and drowning, said Dr. Marguerite DeWitt, deputy state medical examiner.

Both LaPointe and his passenger, Nicole Randall, now 20, swam to safety as the boat continued across the lake and onto shore before coming to a stop 160 feet into woods.

The state maintains that LaPointe was drunk and operating his 32-foot, high-performance boat recklessly at the time of the collision on the night of Aug. 11, 2007. The defense said he was not intoxicated and obeyed all boating safety rules.

Jurors will have to sort through a lot of conflicting testimony, including whether or not Trott’s 14-foot motorboat had its lights on.

A game warden diver testified that the light switch was in the on position when he found the boat on the bottom of Long Lake. But Randall testified that the smaller boat’s lights were off.

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