Attorney charged in boat accident that seriously injured 15-year-old boy

Stephen Chiari. Photo from his company's website, Sacks Ricketts & Case.

A San Mateo attorney is scheduled to be arraigned on Monday (May 13) on misdemeanor charges of operating a boat under the influence and reckless or negligent use of a boat for seriously injuring a 15-year-old boy last
October, prosecutors said on Friday.

In addition, the injured boy, Francesco “Chicco” Adamo and his family filed a lawsuit in San Mateo County Superior Court on Friday against attorney Stephen Chiari accusing him of battery, negligence and infliction of
emotional distress.

The suit seeks unspecified damages.

According to San Francisco attorney Chris Dolan, who represents Francesco and his family, at about 4 p.m. on Oct. 28 a ski boat driven by Chiari ran over Francesco as he was kayaking with his father Filippo Adamo in the Marina Lagoon in San Mateo.

Dolan said Chiari, who was an Oakland police officer for 13 years before he became a lawyer in 2002, was under the influence at the time of the collision and was arrested for reckless operation of a boat and operating a boat while intoxicated with injury.

The suit says Francesco sustained deep lacerations on his back, a crushed chest impacting his lungs, a head wound and skull fracture, including damage to the base of his brain and a spine injury.

Despite the severity of his wounds, Francesco has now recovered to the point of being discharged from the hospital and has returned to school on a part-time basis, although he does face extensive rehabilitation.

According to Dolan, Francesco’s parents, Filippo Adamo and Debra Scott are upset that the San Mateo County District Attorney’s Office only charged Chiari with misdemeanor offenses, not felonies.

“To now learn that the District Attorney is only charging this man with a misdemeanor is offensive and unacceptable,” Scott said in a statement.

Scott said, “My son was shredded and nearly killed by this man’s boat as he sped along a recreational waterway while intoxicated and he is
going to be charged with a misdemeanor!”

Scott said she wonders if Chiari is “getting a pass” because he used to be a police officer and said, “We demand that the District Attorney
charge him with the felony of operation of a boat under the influence of alcohol causing great bodily injury.”

San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said Chiari was only charged with misdemeanor offenses because his office can’t prove
that Chiari was acting recklessly and that hitting Francesco was a conscious act.

Wagstaffe said he believes there’s “no question” that Chiari acted negligently by turning around to look at the person he was towing instead of looking ahead and seeing Francesco.

Wagstaffe said he believes even the misdemeanor allegations are “very aggressive” in terms of trying to prove that Chiari was criminally negligent.

Wagstaffe said a test of Chiari’s blood-alcohol content an hour after the crash showed that it was 0.05% — below the 0.08% standard for a DUI.

He said investigators believe Chiari’s blood-alcohol content was higher at the time of the crash but still was below the 0.08% level.

Chiari is scheduled to be arraigned at 8:30 a.m. on Monday (May 13) in Department 19, Courtroom L, at the northern branch of the San Mateo Superior Court at 1050 Mission Road, in South San Francisco.

Wagstaffe said misdemeanor defendants don’t have to appear in court for their arraignments if their attorneys request to have their appearances waived.