Friend of teen killed in tubing crash faces boating negligence charges
Aug 22, 2012 (Menafn - Sun Sentinel - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --FORT LAUDERDALE -- Randolph "R.J." Bieszczak died a year ago while tubing on the C-14 canal in Coral Springs, and friends and family remembered the 17-year-old J.P. Taravella High School student Tuesday night at Riverside Park.
There, a plaque, bench and live oak were installed in honor of the Tamarac teen.
Jesse Ellis was 20 when he was steering a 17-foot Aquasport motorboat that towed Bieszczak and another buddy, Nicholas Messier, then 19.
The tube that carried the young men collided with rocks near the canal's shore that Sunday afternoon, officials said last year. Messier survived the crash and required 30 steel staples for cuts to his arms and feet. Bieszczak's neck snapped and he drowned, his mother, Annalisa Schiavo said.
Before the tragedy, the young men were PlayStation fans, often spent time together and shared fuel costs for their boat.
This year, the state brought a misdemeanor case in Broward County court against Ellis, now 21. A hearing is scheduled for October.
Ellis has pleaded not guilty to three charges: Violating navigation rules; lacking a lookout passenger or rear-view mirror while aquaplaning; and lacking a boater safety course identification card, according to a Broward County court docket.
Ellis has asked for a jury trial. His lawyer could not be reached for comment.
Messier said Tuesday, "I'm all good now. I have no injuries, not at all."
He is still friends with Ellis. They and another teen who co-owned the boat sold it soon after Bieszczak died.
"Glad to get rid of it," Messier said. "Too many memories."
His father, Chris Messier, said, "Of course we still love Jesse. He's more than welcome to come over, any time. It could have easily have been my son."
The father said the incident changed the friends' lives forever.
"Nick always has it at the back of his head," Chris Messier said. "He's always thinking about it. He hasn't been back tubing. He'll never go back in the canal again. He got smart."
And as for Ellis, Chris Messier said, "Jesse hasn't been the same since it happened. Trust me, he feels deeply bad about the whole thing."
The parent called the crash "a freak accident. Everybody was willing to go on the boat. Nobody was drinking. They were just kids, having fun."
On Tuesday afternoon, Schiavo said she hopes the state bans tubing and other sports on the canal.
"I don't want another kid to die," she said.
Of her son's friends, she said, "I love those kids. I know they're going through a lot of stuff, too. It happened to my son and I hate it. But I'm not holding a grudge against them or anyone else.
"My son was loved by all those kids," she said through tears. "Blaming them is not going to bring R.J. back."
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