Death On The Hudson River: Woman Allegedly Pulled Fiancé’s Paddle Away As He Drowned
Angelika Graswald was indicted on charges of second-degree murder and manslaughter Tuesday in the death of her fiancé, Vincent Viafore, who drowned in a kayaking incident on the Hudson River last month.
The indictment alleges that Graswald, 35, intentionally killed Viafore, 46, by removing a plug from his kayak so that it would fill with water and tampering with his paddle.
It also alleges that Graswald moved the paddle away from Viafore as he struggled to stay afloat in the frigid 40-degree water. Graswald did not assist him or call for help, prosecutors said Tuesday.
The Orange County grand jury indicted Graswald on one count of second-degree murder, which carries a maximum sentence of 25 years to life, and on one count of second-degree manslaughter, which carries a maximum of 15 years in state prison.
Police initially believed Graswald “to be a survivor of a tragic accident.”
At around 7:40 p.m. on April 19, police responded to a 911 call from Graswald saying that Viafore’s kayak had capsized on the Hudson River. She also told authorities that Viafore, who was not wearing a life jacket, had disappeared in the water.
Graswald was rescued from the water in a life vest and treated for hypothermia. Both kayaks were also recovered; however, police were unable to immediately locate Viafore’s body.
Recalling Viafore’s final moments before his death, Graswald said, “I saw him struggling a little bit. He was trying to figure out how to paddle the waves. And then I just saw him flip, right in front of me.”
She said she called out to him to hold on.
“He kept, like, watching me, and I kept watching him,” she said. “He said, ‘I don’t think I’m going to make it.’ I was like, ‘Pff, what are you talking about, you’re going to make it, of course.'”
Police said that Graswald had implicated herself by making conflicting statements about Viafore’s death.
Assistant District Attorney Julie Mohl said that by her own admission, Graswald had tampered with Viafore’s kayak, which filled with water and capsized, CBS News reported.
Viafore held on to the boat for five to 10 minutes, but Graswald only called 911 20 minutes after his kayak overturned, Mohl said at a bail hearing on April 30. She also said that witnesses claimed Graswald intentionally capsized her own kayak.
“She made statements that implicated herself in this crime, enough to certainly have reasonable cause to have made the arrest,” Maj. Patrick Regan, a state police commander, said at a news conference after her arrest.
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