Indian American bridegroom-to-be killed in boat accident

July 4th, 2010 - 8:34 pm ICT by IANS  

By Arun Kumar
New York, July 4 (IANS) A young Indian American physiotherapist preparing to marry his long-time sweetheart next month was killed in a boating accident in New York Harbour, media reports Sunday said.

Jijo Puthuvamkunnath, 30, was celebrating with friends on a small boat near the Statue of Liberty Friday afternoon when they were hit by a 30-foot ProLine craft piloted by Richard Aquilone, New York Daily News said.

The impact shattered the tiny boat and pinned Puthuvamkunnath in the hull, killing the New Jersey man just two days after he sat with his fiance Sissy Chacko for their wedding portrait.

Puthuvamkunnath, an immigrant from India who earned a doctorate from Rutgers University, was a physical therapist who worked with children at schools and hospitals throughout New Jersey.

Clutching an invitation to a wedding that will never be, the victim’s heartbroken father, Varqhese Puthuvamkunnath, the Daily said, had one message for the boater charged with taking his son’s life: “Give this to the man who killed my son!”

Varghese was crying so hard Saturday he could barely walk. “My boy, my boy,” he said, as his voice trailed off and the tears streamed down his face. “I lost my child.”

US Park Police officials believe Aquilone’s boat - the Reel Impulsive - hit the wake of a passing Shark speedboat and then came crashing down atop the 17-foot Bayliner in which Puthuvamkunnath was sitting with two friends.

Aquilone, 39, was charged with vehicular manslaughter and operating a vessel while under the influence of alcohol. He blurted out his condolences to the dead man’s family after his arraignment in Manhattan Criminal Court. “I apologise for this, really,” Aquilone said.

Dozens of weeping mourners filled Puthuvamkunnath’s father’s home Saturday. Relatives and friends were suddenly forced to plan a funeral instead of preparing for a wedding.

The wedding party posed for photos on Wednesday and the invitations were mailed out last month for an Aug 28 ceremony at Assyrian Orthodox Church of the Virgin Mary in Paramus, New Jersey.

(Arun Kumar can be contacted at

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