Boating is a favorite activity and pastime of many here in Florida, especially when shared with family and friends.
As with any activity, there are rules to abide by to ensure everyone’s safety, and when they aren’t heeded, bad things can happen.
Unfortunately, a fun boat outing with friends this past Halloween turned into a tragedy when a high-speed crash claimed the life of a teen.
What caused the boating accident?
At around 12:30 am on Halloween night, a boat with 7 teens left a party and began heading northbound on the Intracoastal Waterway. Reports indicate that the boat operator was moving at a high rate of speed that exceeded the no-wake requirement for the area they were in.
Around area marker 28, the vessel hit a steel channel mile marker, causing all passengers, none of which were wearing a life vest, to be thrown from the boat.
After the crash, 6 of the teens were accounted for and they realized 1 was still missing. Police were able to locate the missing teen using a phone app. They found Rachel Herring, 16, floating in the water about one-half of a mile away and she was pronounced dead.
The driver of the boat was charged with vessel homicide. Although it was known that alcohol and marijuana were being consumed at the party, there was no evidence at the time that the driver was under the influence.
Staying safe while boating
Unfortunately, boating accidents like these can’t always be avoided, but you can take steps to help ensure your safety while boating.
Before getting on the water:
- Take a course on boating. There are courses offered in-person and online.
- Don’t imbibe. Whether before driving or boating, just don’t do it if you’re going to get behind the wheel.
- Get a complimentary boat safety check. These checks can be performed by the U.S. Power Squadron or U.S. Coast Guard.
- Use a pre-departure checklist. Check to make sure everything you need is onboard.
- Check weather conditions.
- Have a float plan. Make sure someone on land knows where you’re going on the water and who’s with you, as well any other important details.
While on the water:
- Use life jackets.
- Mind the boat engine. The driver should always wear the engine cut-off lanyard. Also, don’t allow anyone to get on or off the boat while the engine is on.
- Make decisions based on common sense.
What to do if you’ve been hurt in a boating accident
If you’re ever in a boating accident, here are a few steps that should immediately be taken.
- Call emergency services. Whether it’s 911 or the Florida Coast Guard, first responders must be notified immediately.
- Get medical care, no matter how seemingly small the injury. The effects of some injuries may show up days or even weeks later. To make sure you’re covered, seek medical attention after the accident.
- Record as many details of the accident as possible. Taking photographs is a great way to capture details that can easily be forgettable after leaving the site.
Also, be aware that there is a 4-year statute of limitations for filing claims for boating accidents on Florida-governed waters.
Last, but certainly not least, make sure that you contact a Florida personal injury attorney who is experienced and knowledgeable with boating accident cases.