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Man sentenced in connection with fatal 2010 boating accident

By Staff | Aug 21, 2012



A Cape Coral man was sentenced to jail Tuesday in connection to a boating accident that resulted in the death of one person and injuries to another.

Jason Benhard Williams, 39, of 2011 S.E. 13th St., received six months in the Lee County Jail, followed by 10 years of probation, after pleading guilty to BUI manslaughter in the death of Jason T. Baldner, 35, of Onalaska, Wis.

As part of the deal, Williams also pleaded to BUI with property damage.

“We arranged a plea agreement along with the wishes of the family of both victims,” State Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Samantha Syoen said.

She explained that the agreement involved Baldner’s wife and parents, and Eric J. Terpsman, 34, of 1041 S.E. 20th Ave., who also was on the boat.

“(Eric) did not want us to prosecute the charge dealing with his injuries,” Syoen said.

The state dropped a BUI with serious bodily injury charge as a result.

Under the agreement, Williams was ordered to cover court and probation costs, give a DNA sample as a convicted felon and pay Cape Coral $10,250 for property damage. He must complete 100 hours of community service.

Williams must also attend a DUI school, complete six classes per year in which he will give lectures and cannot possess or consume alcohol the first year. He was also ordered to write a letter of apology to Baldner’s family.

Syoen called the deal a resolution worked on by all parties involved.

“It helps bring closure to the families of the victim and is something everyone agreed on to help them move forward,” she said.

On May 8, 2010, Williams was operating a 37-foot boat occupied by Baldner and Terpsman when it crashed into a seawall near Cantry Canal, at the end of Coral Point Drive. The boat topped the Cape seawall, partially landing on land.

All three men were trauma-alerted to Lee Memorial Hospital with varying injuries. While Williams and Terpsman were eventually discharged, Baldner was later transferred to Gundersen Lutheran Health Center in Wisconsin.

Baldner died July 28, 2010, from his injuries and medical complications.

In March 2011, the State Attorney’s Office filed charges against Williams. The case was investigated by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission.

FWC officials reported that boat was traveling at a high rate of speed when it crashed, and alcohol was suspected to have played a role in the accident.