ALBANY - An Adirondack whitewater guide pleaded guilty today to criminally negligent homicide and two other charges following the Sept. 27 drowning of a client, authorities said.
Court officials said 37-year-old Rory Fay of North Creek also admitted today to charges of aggravated unlicensed operation and driving while intoxicated. Fay, who has been in jail since the drowning, faces up to a year in jail and five years' probation under the plea bargain.
State police said he was drunk when he and 53-year-old Tamara Blake of Columbus, Ohio, fell out of their raft on the Indian River. Her body was found a few miles downstream in the Hudson River. An autopsy showed she drowned, despite wearing a properly attached flotation vest and helmet. Her boyfriend, 53-year-old Richard Clar of Columbus, also was in the raft.
Fay was a guide for the Hudson River Rafting Co., which has been temporarily shut down by court order.
Owner Patrick Cunningham faces misdemeanor charges of reckless endangerment, accused of sending clients down the Hudson without state-licensed guides. Cunningham, who has run his rafting company for 30 years, has denied the charges.
Thousands of rafters ride a 17-mile stretch of the Hudson and a handful of other fast-running Adirondack rivers from spring through fall with professional outfitters and licensed guides. Whitewater kayakers also do it without guides. Drownings are rare.
Calls to Cunningham and to Hamilton County District Attorney Marsha Purdue were not returned.
Purdue told the Adirondack Explorer magazine today that Fay's other charges stemmed from driving clients in a van without a license and being under the influence of alcohol.
The state Department of Environmental Conservation recently suspended Cunningham's and Fay's guide licenses, saying they would be revoked if they broke applicable law.