Man pleads no contest to lesser charge in boating wreck that killed his girlfriend is your source for free news and information in the Wilmington area.

Prosecutors say a blood test result made it unlikely that the State could pursue impairment and manslaughter charges in the case of a Rocky Point man charged in connection with a fatal boating wreck in July 2013. The defendant has since pleaded no contest to a lesser charge in the case.

Larry Scott Duncan, 46, entered a plea of no contest Thursday in New Hanover County Superior Court to a charge of operating a boat in a reckless manner, according to Assistant District Attorney Doug Carriker.

Duncan was charged after a July 4th boating wreck on the Cape Fear River, just past the Castle Hayne boating access, that killed 37-year-old Jennifer Lee Faircloth. Carriker said Faircloth was Duncan’s girlfriend of 18 years and the mother of his two children.

Duncan and Faircloth were in a boat traveling downstream on the Cape Fear River to see the fireworks in Wilmington when their boat struck an oncoming boat with four people aboard, Carriker said. Faircloth died from injuries in the wreck while Duncan was hospitalized for his injuries. The occupants of the other boat were not injured, he added.

Duncan was originally indicted in August 2014 on charges of involuntary manslaughter, operating a boat while impaired and reckless operation of a vessel. This past June, the State’s crime lab returned the blood work investigators had taken the night of the wreck, Carriker said.

The test indicated Duncan had a blood alcohol concentration of .04, which was “well below the legal limit,” Carriker said. The limit of concentration allowed to operate a vehicle or vessel in the State of North Carolina is below .08.

“The results [of the blood test] were a shock to investigators,” Carriker said. “It made it unlikely that impairment could be proven since that was the basis of the case.”

Therefore, the State pursued the reckless boating charge based on the fact that Duncan – who was driving when the incident occurred – moved the boat to left, and not right side of the path of the oncoming boat, Carriker said. The State dropped the involuntary manslaughter and impairment charges.

Superior Court Judge John Nobles sentenced Duncan to 30 days in prison, which was suspended, and ordered him to serve 12 months of unsupervised probation.