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Lawyer pleads not guilty to drunken boating; woman loses arm

An attorney who specializes in defending people charged with drunken driving pleaded not guilty Monday to operating a boat while drunk after a passenger fell overboard and lost her arm in the propeller.

Benjamin Urbelis, 33, of Boston, was held on $75,000 bail and ordered to surrender his passport at his arraignment.

Police and the Coast Guard allege Urbelis was operating his 29-foot boat Naut Guilty on Saturday night in Boston Harbor when the 19-year-old woman jumped in the water to retrieve something that fell overboard.

The woman’s arm was caught in the propeller as she tried to get back on the boat. She was taken to Massachusetts General Hospital, where she is recovering. Her right arm was amputated just above the elbow.

At his court appearance Monday, Urbelis wore swim trunks and a Boston Celtics T-shirt that read “Beat LA,” The Boston Globe reported. A prosecutor said Urbelis was “drunk and belligerent” while police interviewed him after the incident and that he refused to take a chemical breath test.

Urbelis’ lawyer says his client is an accomplished professional and not a flight risk. Along with being an attorney, Urbelis is also part-owner of a Boston bar and founder of a nightlife consulting company, according to a website for his law practice.

Along with Urbelis, there were three other men in their 30s aboard the boat, plus nine women between the ages of 19 and 22 and a 15-year-old boy.

After the woman was taken to the hospital, firefighters searched but failed to find her arm. Steve MacDonald, a spokesman for the Boston Fire Department, told the Globe that medical responders “did a great job in trying to give the victim a chance.”

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