Local News

Perdue's Son Cleared in 2003 Boating Crash

Posted October 25, 2007

Lt. Gov. Beverly Perdue’s son was neither impaired nor negligent when a boat he was driving crashed into another boat in 2003, a federal judge ruled Thursday.

Emmett Perdue, who was 22 at the time of the accident, and his brother, Garrett, were involved in lawsuits with the owners of the other boat, Phillip and Peggy Amerson. Each family accused the other of negligence in the June 28, 2003, accident on the Trent River.

Chief U.S. District Judge W. Earl Britt ruled Thursday that Phillip Amerson was negligent because his boat was not lit properly when he was struck.

Britt said both the Amersons and the Perdues had been drinking on their boats.

Emmett Perdue acknowledged that he had several drinks before the accident, but said he couldn't avoid hitting the Amerson’s boat. He testified that he drank three beers and a shot of liquor at a hotel before heading home up the river with his brother and eight other people aboard their 19-foot boat.

He said the Amerson’s 18-foot boat was drifting without lights, and it was too late to avoid hitting it by the time he saw it.


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  • Lightfoot3 Oct 26, 2007

    Yeah, I think both parties are at fault too. The Amersons probably had their lights out if they were nude. But given Perdue is a twice convicted drunk driver, had been drinking, and just left a drinking party, I’m willing to bet he was legally intoxicated. Maybe if his reflexes weren’t impaired, he could have avoided the boat. He still wasn’t given an alcohol test, he wasn’t cited for probable overloading his boat, and he wasn’t cited for probably not having enough life vests. Sounds like some favorable treatment to me.

    Still doesn’t excuse the Amersons from fault, but Perdue’s slate shouldn’t be wiped clean.

  • kemtek Oct 25, 2007

    Go to www.newbernsj.com for the whole story......look in the achived stories. It makes good reading. I'd be shamed.....
    What kind of party do you think a "Knee Walk Party " is?? DUH!
    Emmett's had two DUI's according to the article, one in NC and one in California. He said he'd been drinking that night but he 'wasn't under the influence'....okay, i'm not sure if I buy that but I'm not the judge. The Amerson's made a poor decision and of course politics paid off...again. From the Sun Journal: "Amerson testified that on the day of the accident, she and her husband and another couple went by boat from the New Bern Country Club to New Bern lawyer Marcus Chesnutt’s house for his annual “Knee Walk” party. Chesnutt lives on the Trent River.

    The Perdue brothers had been at the same party earlier in the day.

    Amerson said that her husband was a careful boater. She said that before leaving the country club while it was still daylight, he put the stern light up “to be sure it was ready

  • lets go fishin Oct 25, 2007

    Sounds to me like both parties were at fault however I disagree with the judge. From much nightime navigation experience it is essential to shine a spotlight ahead and to the sides in order to maintain awareness of what is around you. In salt water there are crab pots, channel markers, sand bars, small islands and of course the occasional boat without lights. A "boat captain" is responsible for the other lives on the boat and needs to have all his wits about him at all times...even in the daytime (never drink and drive anything). Also 18-20 mph was just too fast at night. The other boat captain should have had running lights turned on and needed to be anchored away from the main channel. I believe both boat captains were blessed that no one died.

  • itsnews2me Oct 25, 2007

    "TEN people on a 19-foot boat? Sounds like a crowded boat for this 'experienced boat captain'."

    Yeah, a 19-foot Grady White (which is what I believe the make of boat was reported as previously)is not coast-guard approved for 10 persons.

  • Lightfoot3 Oct 25, 2007

    Maybe it was a slick lawyer on Perdue’s side of things. Perdue’s lawyers said that the Amersons were having an intimate evening and would not have been on their boat in the nude with the lights on. However, navigation lights don’t light up a boat’s interior. I can barely see mine from inside the boat. A stern light can light up the inside if it’s a standard version. My stern light is shielded for this very reason. Maybe the stern light convinced the judge that their lights weren’t on. If there lights weren’t on, they are probably the blame for the accident.

    I still question why a person with TWO previous drunk driving incidents, who had been drinking previous to the accident, had ten people on a 19 foot boat (probably without the proper number of life vests), in an injury accident, was allowed to leave without at least alcohol testing. Still fishy….

  • Lightfoot3 Oct 25, 2007

    From another news source:

    “Two female passengers on the Perdues' boat who were injured in the collision say that between the Perdues and the occupants of the other boat, someone -- or everyone -- was negligent and that the women are entitled to hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical expenses and lost wages.”

    A police officer with the state Wildlife Commission testified that the lights on Amerson's boat were equipped and working when he first saw the boat.

  • Offshore Oct 25, 2007

    Oh, and I'm not crazy about drinking and driving anything, period.

  • Offshore Oct 25, 2007

    Floating with no lights, screams of disregard for others safety. I am a proponent of everyone having to take a power squadron course minimum to operate a boat. So many people get behind the wheel of their new boat and "oh gee, lets go fast" until they realize (usually too late) they don't actually come with brakes. I have observed too often a lack of respect to other boaters, fishermen, boaters pulling skiers, etc. To the point of safety, (life safety) for themselves, their passengers and others on the water.

  • Lightfoot3 Oct 25, 2007

    There’s impaired, and there’s falling down drunk. There is a wide divide between those. I’ve consumed alcohol to the point of feeling it enough to NOT drive, but I could still do most if not all tasks. It MIGHT impair judgment and reaction a bit, but it doesn’t mean you can’t swim and help people. I saved a guy once that fell between a boat and a dock and I was pretty drunk at the time. The guy I saved was absolutely plastered! By the way, although irrelevant, did Perdue actually save these people from the water or just help to look?

    Yes, Amerson should have been tested too if he had been drinking. I wasn’t aware the other nine people testified that Amerson’s lights were out. I SERIOUSLY doubt Perdue had TEN life vests. Wasn’t cited for that either, was he? I also think his boat has a capacity of 8. ?? Too many things just don’t add up.

  • naturegirl Oct 25, 2007

    "Seems like we’re missing something" Lightfoot - maybe it's the same as all those WMDs we missed!