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Sudbury police testify at Christako's trial on charges relating to boating fatality

BY KEITH LACEY Two breathalyser tests revealed Michael Christakos had more than twice the legal amount of alcohol allowed to operate a motor vehicle three hours after a collision that claimed the life of his passenger. Const.

Two breathalyser tests revealed Michael Christakos had more than twice the legal amount of alcohol allowed to operate a motor vehicle three hours after a collision that claimed the life of his passenger.

Const. Christopher Hart of the Greater Sudbury Police Service testified Friday he noticed a "very strong odour of alcohol" on Christakos's breath after another officer had arrested him for leaving the scene of an accident June 21, 2003.

Hart said Christakos's speech patterns were "slow and drawn out and didn't sound right to me" and his eyes were glazed and bloodshot, so he arrested him for impaired driving of a vessel.

The collision, which occurred on Ramsey Lake, claimed the life of Samuele Pisani, 23.

Christakos has pleaded not guilty to criminal negligence causing death, impaired driving causing death, two counts of criminal negligence causing bodily harm, dangerous driving, having more than the legal limit of alcohol in his system while operating a motor vehicle and leaving the scene of an accident.

Breathalyser tests taken three hours after the accident indicated Christakos had blood alcohol readings of 1.8, more than twice the legal limit of .08.

Defence counsel Berk Keaney grilled Hart about not having noted Christakos had good balance, understood everything being asked of him, answered questions without hesitation and other indications of good motor skills.

The only eyewitness to the collision, John Scott, testified Friday he saw a boat whiz by him at speeds he estimated between 35 and 40 miles per hour and about 10 seconds later watched that same boat get in a collision.

The mother of the children, Melissa Fuller, broke down in tears testifying she believed her young son had lost his eye because of the collision.

"He was bleeding and I thought he had lost his eye because I couldn't see it (because most of his face was covered in blood)," she said.
She tried to phone 911 but her cellphone wasn't working, she said.
She accompanied her son and daughter to hospital and both were treated and released.

Her son needed 16 stitches to close a head wound over his eyebrow and he also had part of his tongue severed, but he didn't suffer any long-term injuries, she said.

She noticed a boat several hundred metres away coming in her direction on the boat she was on with her husband Jeff and two children, she said.
"It seemed to me to be coming fast and it was coming head on."
She hoped the oncoming boat would change direction and relaxed when her husband veered his boat, but the oncoming boat quickly changed paths and within seconds she realized there was going to be a collision, she said.

"I yelled out to Jeff (husband) they were going to hit us," she said.
She was thrown back violently in her seat and remembers searching frantically for her children. She quickly found her two kids and panicked when she saw her son's face covered in blood, she said.

When defence counsel suggested her husband veered his boat directly into the path of the oncoming boat, she denied that's what happened.
Jeff Fuller's brother Glenn and his wife arrived seconds after the collision and testified despite chaos and confusion, it appeared everyone was accounted for.

It wasn't until about 30 minutes later, that a woman on shore yelled out "Sam is missing" and a group, including himself, who had left the accident scene to return to shore, rushed back to the scene.

Within seconds, Fuller testified he saw the leg of someone in the water.

"We looked down and could see the whites of his legs...emergency personnel dove down to get him and pulled his body to surface," said Fuller. "I pulled his body up on the boat...attempts to revive him started immediately."

Fuller said he "was furious." He and his wife had asked more than once if everyone was accounted for and felt assured, that despite serious injuries, everyone was safe.

He quickly realized his brother was the driver of one of the boats and his nephew had been seriously hurt.

He also recognized Christakos as the driver of the powerboat he had seen breeze by him at speeds he estimated to be "about 55 miles an hour" 20 or 30 seconds before the collision.

Fuller testified he knew Christakos and observed him sitting in silence with his legs crossed at the back of the power boat in the minutes after the collision.

It still haunts him no one informed him Pisani's body had been thrown as a result of the collision, he said.

"I'm a certified rescue diver and I had my snorkle and fins...if someone was missing I certainly never would have gone to shore," he said.

Fuller admitted he and his brother have discussed the case since it took place two years ago, but said he didn't have any bias towards his brother in this case.

When Keaney suggested the 55 miles per hour speed estimate might have been an exaggeration, Fuller insisted that was the speed as he owns a high-powered speed boat himself.

Fuller's wife Laurel testified the boat driven by Christakos was going very fast as it passed the pontoon boat to the left.

"I was very annoyed by was going too fast and it was too close," she said.

Less than 30 seconds later, she heard a loud bang "like a car crash" and quickly realized the boat that had just gone by was involved in a collision, she said.

She also knew Christakos and quicky pointed him out as the driver of the speed boat, she said.

The trial, expected to last two more weeks, continues Monday.