CHARLOTTE COUNTY, FL – The man accused of killing a jet skier in a Charlotte County boat crash 18 months ago says he is innocent.
For the first time, we heard Bruce Vilardi’s side of the story and spoke to his attorney.
Authorities say Vilardi was drunk when his boat crashed into a jet ski — killing the rider Lee Hollis — in December 2013. His attorney Scott Weinberg says that is false.
“My client was driving his boat within the legal limit, and was not breaking any laws or rules of navigation,” Weinberg said.
Weinberg reached out to NBC2 after we reported Hollis’ widow, Gina, is suing the Freedom Boat Club — the company that rented Vilardi his boat the day of the crash.
Gina Hollis says the club should have known Vilardi had a previous DUI charge. But Vilardi’s defense says alcohol was not a factor in the crash.
“Most of the civilian witnesses will testify that Mr. Hollis made a right turn out of nowhere, without looking, and crashed into Mr. Vilardi’s boat,” Weinberg said.
We reached out to the victim’s widow who says this is the first she has heard of the defense.
“He is probably the only person who believes it was the fault of anyone but himself,” the victim’s widow Gina Hollis said.
Both sides will battle it out in an upcoming trial. No date has been set at this time.
The case against Freedom Boat Club also remains in litigation. On Wednesday, the company said it cannot comment further on the lawsuit, but expressed condolences to the Hollis family.