LOWELL -- A 33-year-old Lowell man who allegedly caused the death of a 16-year-old girl when he crashed his personal watercraft into another such vehicle on the Merrimack River in Chelmsford last year was indicted for homicide by boat while operating under the influence.
Douglas Dematos, of Lowell, was allegedly drunk when he was riding his watercraft on the river after hours on the evening of Aug. 13, 2017, according to prosecutors.
The indictment was handed down by a Middlesex County grand jury just weeks before Dematos was scheduled to go on trial in Lowell District Court on less serious charges connected to the same incident.
The deadly crash was one of two that prompted the Lowell City Council to ban personal watercraft from the portion of the river between the Rourke Bridge and Pawtucket Falls.
Dematos allegedly drove his watercraft into the back of another watercraft, which 16-year-old Isabelle Silva was riding with her boyfriend. Dematos and the boyfriend were able to swim to safety, but Silva disappeared into the river.
The Lowell High School sophomore was found dead in the river the following morning.
Her parents, Claudia Rocha Santos and Joao Batista Dos Santos, told The Sun last year that they moved here from Brazil in 2015 because Silva told them she’d come here without them if they didn’t move. Silva wanted to get her education in the United States.
She became popular at Lowell High School, where she was a member of the swim team.
“The smile on her face was constant,” swim coach Jen McGlauflin said last year.
When Lt. Robert Akin of the Massachusetts Environmental Police met with Dematos at Lowell General Hospital shortly after the crash, Dematos smelled of alcohol and slurred his speech as he responded to questions, according to a police report.
Dematos admitted he had been drinking that day when interviewed by Akin, saying he “had more alcohol than every day,” according to a police report.
“His speech was very slurred and difficult to understand,” Akin wrote in his report. “His eyes were glossy and bloodshot.”
Dematos’ former defense attorney would later claim the slurred speech was the result of a head injury and that Dematos does not recall the crash. That attorney said Dematos was deeply remorseful about the crash.
Dematos was initially charged in Lowell District Court with operating a boat under the influence, unsafe operation of a boat, and two counts of jet ski violation. He was held on bail in connection with those charges until March of this year.
But shortly after he posted bail, Dematos was detained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement because he was in the country illegally, according to court records.
Assistant District Attorney Daniel Harren sought an order from Lowell District Court compelling ICE to have Dematos brought back to court to face the criminal charges. In a motion seeking that order, Harren wrote that Dematos did not contest deportation proceedings against him.
“The defendant is currently scheduled to be removed from the country on June 21, 2018,” Harren wrote on June 15. “If the defendant is not brought back into state court prior to his removal from the country, the Commonwealth will lose the opportunity to bring this defendant to trial.”
A judge granted the order sought by Harren, and ICE agreed to bring Dematos to court in exchange for a promise that he will be turned back over to ICE immediately upon being released from the custody of state authorities, according to court records.
Dematos was then scheduled to go on trial in Lowell District Court on Thursday, but the trial was canceled since Dematos was indicted in late July on the more serious charge of homicide by boat.
Due to the deportation order, a judge increased Dematos’ bail from $5,000 cash to $50,000 cash, according to court records. He continues to be held on that higher bail.
Dematos is due back in Lowell Superior Court on Aug. 28 for a scheduling conference.
Silva’s parents could not immediately be reached for comment. Dematos’ new attorney, David Larsen, of Somerville, did not return a message seeking comment.
Follow Robert Mills on Twitter @Robert_Mills