Posted: 10:40 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 31, 2012

Orlando man headed to prison 6 years after fatal boat crash

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Boat Crash photo
Boat Crash

ORLANDO, Fla. —

A well-known Orlando boat dealer is headed to federal prison because investigators said he was drunk when he caused a boat crash that killed a woman.

Mark Watts was sentenced after a six-year court fight on Wednesday.

He crashed his boat into a dock on Lake Irma in 2006. Shelby Harper, 20, was killed, and four others badly injured in the accident.

Harper's family told WFTV reporter Renee Stoll that they are glad to finally put the incident behind them.

Watts could have served at least 15 years if he hadn't taken the family's plea deal and was found guilty in a trial.

"You miss her terribly, she was just an amazing kid," said Debbie Harper, Shelby's mother.

Debbie Harper said she has never gotten an apology from Watts.

Investigators said Watts caused the crash during a night of partying and drinking.

The trial for the 51-year-old Watts was held up in court for six years after his lawyers requested dozens of continuances and trial cancellations.

"One kid was going to be a semi-pro baseball player, shattered his shoulder. He actually was scalped," said Harper, describing one those injured in the crash.

Watts fought to have the charged dropped. But instead, he's about to serve the sentence the Harpers agreed to in a plea. They said it was to finally put the incident behind them.

"You put us through hell for six years, then you do six years," said Harper.

Harper said she knows it won't bring her daughter back, but she now feels her family can put that chapter behind them.

"If not, you become that bitter person. And in a way he's made it worse than it was," said Harper.

Watts will serve his time in federal prison.

Harper said she works to remember her daughter through organ donor charities, because her daughter was an organ donor.

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