The owner of a North Creek whitewater rafting company has pleaded not guilty to charges that he endangered customers on two rafting trips in Hamilton County.
Patrick Cunningham is charged with three counts of endangering the welfare of a child and two counts of second-degree reckless endangerment. He pleaded not guilty on Nov. 17, according to the Hamilton County district attorney's office.
One of his guides, Heath Bromley, was initially charged as well, but charges against him were dropped.
Cunninghamn's lawyer Joseph Brennan told the Glens Falls Post-Star that Cunningham broke no laws and that the case would likely go to trial.
Four of the charges stem from a rafting trip on the Hudson River on Aug. 10 with a group of 11 children and counselors from Camp Morasha in Pennsylvania's Pocono Mountains, according to court documents.
The indictment alleges that there weren't licensed guides, that there were too many people in the rafts and that the water levels were too low. It says three children were forced to paddle when they were tired, the water was too low, they didn't have enough food or drink, and they could have walked safely.
The fifth charge, one of the reckless endangerment counts, says Cunningham convinced two people, Robert and Savannah Carson, to take a whitewater trip on the Indian River in an inflatable kayak after they had paid and had understood they would go in a raft with a professional guide supervising.
The Aug. 10 trip was arranged through a program sponsored by Longrace Expeditions, according to a complaint by New York state Forest Ranger Steven Ovill. Ovill accuses Bromley of telling Greg Kaasmann, of Longrace, that the trip was safe and there was no legal requirement that a licensed guide go.
Bromley and Cunningham were initially charged with one misdemeanor reckless endangerment count each: Bromley based on Kaasmann's statement and Cunningham based on one from Robert Carson. Bromley told the Post-Star that he was following Cunningham's directions and had done nothing wrong; he testified before the grand jury that indicted Cunningham.
Contact Nathan Brown at 891-2600 ext. 26 or firstname.lastname@example.org.