Saratoga County

Criminally negligent homicide charged in July Saratoga Lake death; Malta boater arrested

Blake Heflin - Credit: Saratoga County Sheriff's Office

Blake Heflin - Credit: Saratoga County Sheriff's Office

MALTA – A Malta man has been arrested in connection with the July 4 death of a man on Saratoga Lake, Saratoga County sheriff’s officials said.

Blake Heflin, 19, of Stony Point Road, was charged Thursday with one count of criminally negligent homicide, a felony, after more than two months of investigation.

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Heflin was charged in connection with the death of 20-year-old Ian Gerber of Ballston Spa. Heflin had previously been charged with boating while intoxicated.

Sheriff’s officials on Thursday also gave their first accounting of how they believe Gerber died, and how Heflin allegedly contributed to it. Gerber died on the lake at about 7 p.m. that evening.

Heflin was operating a pontoon boat at the time with several young adults on it, including Gerber, officials said.

The investigation determined that Gerber jumped off Heflin’s boat while it was in motion. Gerber was struck by the propeller of Heflin’s boat, severing his left arm, officials said.

As Heflin was turning around to pick up Gerber, Gerber was struck by a cabin cruiser operated by Kevin Sawyer, 50, of Stillwater, officials said.

“Heflin is accused of operating a boat in such a way, including while consuming alcohol and not taking proper safety precautions, as to cause the death of Gerber,” sheriff’s officials wrote in a release.

An attorney for Heflin could be immediately reached for comment Thursday afternoon.

The supporting deposition filed earlier in the Heflin BWI case reports the water conditions as clear, traffic moderate and weather cloudy.

A deputy involved in the investigation smelled alcohol on Heflin and noted the condition of his eyes showed intoxication, police said. Heflin also failed a gaze test, but passed the walk and turn and the one-leg stand.

Heflin allegedly admitted to drinking four or five hard seltzers and admitted to operating the vessel, the deposition said. He also appeared to indicate his last drink was at 1 p.m. that day.

Heflin refused to voluntarily submit to a chemical test, according to the allegations in court. When an investigator at the Manning Boat Launch asked Heflin to submit to the chemical test, Heflin allegedly answered: “I’m not doing this.”

Investigators, however, sought and obtained a court order to draw Heflin’s blood for testing, the deposition shows.

The investigation included assistance from the state Marine Services Bureau, the state Park Police and the state police Forensic Identification Unit and biomechanical experts, officials said.

Heflin was arraigned and released to return to court later.

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Categories: News, Saratoga County

One Comment

Should he have been drinking, absolutely not, should he be charged with the death that was the result of a bunch of young people drinking and screwing around? No, no more than the other guy that hit him with the boat that killed him.

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