Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Boat-crash driver gets 10 years, leaves in silence


Franklin County man ran over smaller craft on Ohio River

By Jim Hannah
Enquirer staff writer

[photo]
Glenn Colann (right) listens to his 10-year sentence for the 2003 Ohio River boat collision that injured six.
The Enquirer/SARAH CONARD

NEWPORT - A Columbus-area used car salesman was silent Tuesday as he was sentenced to 10 years in prison for driving a speedboat over a smaller craft on the Ohio River last year, injuring several people, and fleeing.

Glenn Colann, 55, of the Columbus suburb of Gahanna, declined to address Campbell Circuit Judge William Wehr in the courtroom. Colann, who had been free on bond since his indictment in October, also refused to speak with reporters as sheriff's deputies escorted him to jail.

One of his lawyers, Jim Morgan of Newport, told the judge his client was "remorseful."

Colann will be eligible to appear before Kentucky's parole board in two years. When he first became a suspect, his only comment to police and reporters was that he thought he hit a log.

As part of his plea agreement, Colann didn't admit guilt. He acknowledged only that prosecutors had enough evidence to convict him on four counts of second-degree assault, three counts of fourth-degree assault and seven counts of wanton endangerment as part of a plea agreement.

Colann must also pay $8,400 in restitution.

Commonwealth's Attorney Jack Porter said Colann was piloting his 40-foot Baja Outlaw speedboat, named Snap Decision, on the Ohio River on June 27, 2003, when it ran over the top of a pleasure boat half its size near the city of Dayton, Ky.

No witnesses to the crash came forward, but Porter said he had people who would testify that Colann had been drinking heavily in the hours before the wreck and speeding up and down the river.

Several people who were injured in the wreck declined to speak during the sentencing but did talk with a reporter as they left the courthouse. All seven in the smaller craft were taken to area hospitals, and the smaller boat's owner, Brian Maher, was most seriously injured.

"This was such a tight case," said Stephen Abernathy, a passenger on the smaller boat. "All (Colann) could do is accept the plea and go straight to jail."

Maher said the sentencing was the result of many agencies cooperating and the help of other boaters.

Colann "is a bad example that makes every boater look bad, but he is not your typical boater," said Maher, who had the flesh from his right hand ripped off during the wreck. "Boating on the Ohio River is like a fraternity. Most boaters behave responsibly."

Maher, who is left-handed, is back at work teaching math and science at Wyoming Middle School. He said doctors grafted skin from his hip onto his hand.

Porter agreed that Colann wasn't the typical boater on the Ohio River.

"A lot of boaters were enraged with (Colann's) actions," he said. "They called my office to say so. They offered to help in any way."

"I'm just glad justice was served," said Dayton Police Sgt. Raleigh Barnett, who investigated the case.

E-mail jhannah@enquirer.com




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