A whitewater rafting guide pleaded guilty today to criminally negligent homicide and two other charges arising from the accidental drowning of a client in the Indian River this fall.
Rory Fay of North Creek, 37, admitted in Hamilton County Court that he was intoxicated on the morning he and a client were thrown from their raft.
The body of the victim—Tamara F. Blake, 53, of Columbus, Ohio—was found five miles downstream in the Hudson River. Blake’s boyfriend, Richard J. Clar, 53, also of Columbus, managed to stay in the raft and steer it to shore.
In addition to the felony homicide charge, Fay pleaded guilty to aggravated unlicensed operation and driving while intoxicated, both misdemeanors.
Hamilton County District Attorney Marsha Purdue said Fay admitted driving the clients in a van without a license and while under the influence of alcohol.
Fay has been in jail since his arrest on September 27, the day of the accident. He is scheduled to be sentenced January 10.
Under a plea agreement, Purdue said, Fay will be sentenced to six months in jail and five months of probation on the homicide charge, a year in jail on the DWI charge, and a shorter sentence on the unlicensed operation charge. The jail sentences will run concurrently, meaning Fay will spend a maximum of a year behind bars. He also will give up his guide’s license.
Fay worked for the Hudson River Rafting Company, which offers whitewater trips on the Black, Moose, and Sacandaga rivers as well as through the Hudson Gorge.
The company’s owner, Pat Cunningham, faces legal troubles of his own. He is scheduled to be tried in January on two misdemeanor counts of reckless endangerment for allegedly sending clients on trips down the Hudson without proper supervision. Also, state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has filed a lawsuit seeking to shut down his rafting business.
As part of his plea deal, Fay has agreed to cooperate with the district attorney’s office. He also agreed not to drink alcohol for five years.