NEWBURYPORT — A Middleton man behind the wheel when his boat capsized, sending him and 10 other people into the water at the mouth of the Merrimack River in June, was ordered by a Newburyport District Court judge on Wednesday to complete a safe boating course. 

Joshua Giangregorio, 27, of Highland Road, had been charged with negligent operation of a boat, but in court the charge was generally continued for six months. If Giangregorio completes the safe boating course and stays out of trouble with the law, the charge will be dropped after that time. 

His arraignment came almost seven months after Massachusetts Environmental Police said he overloaded his 20-foot-long Sea Ray and piloted it into the potentially dangerous mouth of the Merrimack River with waves up to 8 feet. 

The boat capsized June 23 about 6 p.m. at the mouth of the river, prompting a response from the Coast Guard, Newburyport Harbormaster Paul Hogg and Environmental Police.

Some of those in the water were pulled onto a private vessel that stopped to assist. All but three feet of the Sea Ray’s bow was submerged by the time rescuers arrived. The boat was eventually righted and towed back to Cashman Park by a TowBoat US crew. 

There were 11 people on the boat, including Giangregorio, and a 12th person was riding alongside in a jet ski. 

“I asked Giangregorio if he knew what the maximum capacity of personnel allowed on board was. He said eight,” Environmental Police Officer Joseph Gray wrote in his report. 

Giangregorio told Gray he had more than eight years boating experience and had driven a boat through the mouth of the Merrimack “six or seven times.” 

Two days later, Newburyport Harbormaster Paul Hogg told Gray that Giangregorio had not had enough life vests for his passengers. An assistant harbormaster told Gray that Giangregorio and his party had come from Wingaersheek Beach in Gloucester and came to Newburyport to fuel up before heading back. 

“Due to Giangregorio knowingly overloading his vessel and operating in a dangerous sea state, I charged Giangregorio with one count of negligent operation of a boat,” Gray wrote in his report. 

Dave Rogers can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @drogers41008.



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