Silva Called Drunk at Time of Crash : Swimming: Former record-holder from UCLA had a blood-alcohol level of 0.16% when he was killed Aug. 19 in Florida, report says.


Chris Silva, the first black swimmer to meet Olympic trials time standards, was intoxicated Aug. 19 when he crashed a borrowed Ferrari and was killed in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.

A spokeswoman at the Broward County Medical Examiner's office in Ft. Lauderdale said Tuesday that the toxicology report showed a blood-alcohol level of 0.16%. In Florida, 0.10% constitutes legal intoxication; the limit is .08% in California.

"It's too bad because the only thing people will remember is that Chris was above the limit in Florida and that he killed himself," said Silva's employer, Samuel James Freas, the president of the International Olympic Hall of Fame. "His life meant much more than that."

Freas, who has known Silva since 1978, was surprised that the All-American from UCLA had been drunk.

"Chris was not a drinker," Freas said. "I don't want to say that he never took a drink, but that was not his lifestyle."

Hours before his death, Silva, a lay minister, had attended services at Mount Olive Baptist Church in Ft. Lauderdale.

From approximately 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. he was on a boat. "They were skin-diving and I was told that Chris had a few (beers)," Freas said.

According to the attorney for a passenger who was injured in the accident, Silva and his companions then went to a waterfront restaurant, where Silva ordered a sandwich and made some phone calls, inviting friends on a twilight boat ride.

Then, Silva asked one of his friends, Teryle Beye, if he could borrow Beye's Ferrari for a drive around the block. Charles Loiacono accompanied Silva.

Just 1.2 miles from the restaurant, Silva lost control. The car crashed into a concrete bus bench and two trees, killing him instantly and injuring Loiacono, who was hospitalized until Sept. 1.

"Just one minute passed from the time he left the place over the Las Olas Bridge," Freas said. "This is not what his life was about, a mistake he made in one minute. He impacted hundreds of thousands of people positively. This was a magnificent human being. What his life represented was not a one-minute ride in a Ferrari."

Silva had a poor driving record. According to the California Department of Motor Vehicles, his license was suspended in July after he had been ticketed for not filing an accident report, speeding, not wearing a seat belt, unsafe lane changes and not having auto registration.

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