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BWI charge tossed in fatal boating accident

NYPD Harbor unit works to recover the body

NYPD Harbor unit works to recover the body of a man that fell of a boat near East Rockaway Inlet. Nassau County Marine Bureau and Detectives are on the scene. The body has been brought into the Atlantic Beach Fire Rescue dock were NCPD crime scene is investigating. (Aug. 10, 2012) Credit: Jim Staubitser

A homeless man who told police that his friend fell off his boat and drowned while the two were fishing together in East Rockaway Inlet earlier this month was released from jail Wednesday and the charge against him will be dropped, prosecutors said.

There is no evidence Janusz Sowa was responsible for his friend Stanislaw Nawrocki's death on Aug. 9, based upon preliminary autopsy reports, prosecutors said.

Sowa, 54, had not been charged in connection with Nawrocki's death but prosecutors had charged him with boating while intoxicated after he registered a .17 percent blood-alcohol level -- more than double the legal limit of .08 percent -- after driving the boat back to the marina.

Prosecutors dropped the BWI charge, saying it appears Sowa only drove the boat out of necessity after Nawrocki, 57, of Ridgewood, Queens, fell in the water.

He was represented by the Nassau County Legal Aid Society, which does not comment on individual cases.According to court papers, Sowa told police he had been hanging out at the Forest Avenue train station in Ridgewood, Queens, drinking beer when Nawrocki, who was also drinking a beer, came by and asked him to go fishing.

The two drove to the Crows Nest Marina in Oceanside, stopping on the way to buy vodka, Sowa told police, according to court papers.

Sowa told police Nawrocki allowed him to drive his boat, a 26-foot 1990 Bayliner, for a time, but took the wheel himself when the current picked up. He said Nawrocki cut the engine and walked to the back of the boat, saying he was going to drop the anchor, according to court papers.

At that point, Sowa said a big wave rocked the boat and Nawrocki fell overboard, according to court papers. Sowa said he asked his friend what he could do to help, but Nawrocki said, "Don't worry about it, I'll swim back," court papers said. But Sowa said more waves came and pushed Nawrocki farther from the boat, court papers say. Then Sowa said the boat began to spin, and he lost sight of his friend.

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