Articles Posted in Boating Fatality

The first South Florida death related to lobster miniseason involved a 79-year-old man who was being towed behind a boat.

The man was snorkeling Wednesday at Bahia Honda State Park in search of lobster when he had “difficulty in the water and did not survive,’’ said a public information coordinator for the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission’s South Region.

The man was transported to Fishermen’s Hospital in Marathon, where he was pronounced dead.

The two-day lobster miniseason ended at midnight Thursday.

Last year, a 60-year-man from Little Torch Key died while diving for lobster on the Gulf side of Cudjoe Key.

Also on Wednesday, a 16-year-old girl was taken to a hospital in the afternoon after one of her fingers was severed while climbing off a boat.

On a similar note, the first arrest of the miniseason in the Florida Keys occurred around 2:30 a.m. when a 78-year-old Marathon man was charged with possession of one undersized lobster and of “over-the-limit” lobsters, with 33.

With more than 10,000 miles of rivers, streams, lakes and ocean coastline, Florida’s abundance of water make it an ideal spot for water and boating activities. While water and boating activities can be fun hobbies, the truth is that they can also be dangerous. On average, there are over 1,000 reported boating accidents every year in Florida with many causing serious injuries and wrongful death.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission or FWC has jurisdiction over most of the boating accidents in Florida and are usually the ones who investigate the majority of boating accidents. According to their reports, an increase in the number of boating accidents is usually seen on holidays like Memorial Day, July 4th, Columbus Day, New Year’s Eve and during lobster miniseason when more boats are on the water.

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The National Transportation Safety Board believes El Faro, the cargo ship that went missing during Hurricane Joaquin, has been found in the Atlantic Ocean about 15,000 feet below the surface.

The NTSB said the USNS Apache used sonar equipment. The technology first detected the vessel Saturday afternoon.

Specialists on the Apache will use a deep ocean remotely operated vehicle to survey and confirm the identity of the wreckage. The survey could start as early as Sunday.

NTSB said the sonar detection is consistent with a 790-foot cargo ship. The vessel appears to be upright and in one piece.

If the vessel is confirmed to be El Faro, the remote will use a video camera to document the vessel and debris field in order to locate and recover the voyage data recorder.

El Faro went missing on Oct. 1 during Hurricane Joaquin. The Coast Guard searched for the boat for many days before the NTSB contracted the U.S. Navy to take over the search.

El Faro had 28 crew members from the United States and five from Poland. The ship was heading to Puerto Rico on Sept. 29 from Jacksonville on a regularly scheduled cargo supply run.

Reports indicate that the ship had lost power, had taken on water and was listing 15 degrees but that the situation was “manageable,” in their last communication, according to ship owner TOTE Maritime Puerto Rico.

Joaquin was a Category 4 hurricane when El Faro got caught in the storm. According to reports, the ship had 391 shipping
containers on board, making it quite top-heavy as it tried to navigate through Joaquin’s 50-foot waves.

Anyone who has spent time earning a living on the ocean knows that this is a risky trade. The unpredictability of the ocean places even the most experienced of sailors and the strongest of ships in constant danger. These conditions demand professionalism from all of the crew members of any sea vessel, whether it is a cruise ship, cargo ship, fishing boat, tugboat, or anything else. Any lack of competence places all the lives on board at risk.

Despite the fact that working on the ocean is inherently dangerous, this fact alone does not absolve the shipowner, captain or crew members from being at fault if one of their employees or fellow workers suffers an injury or death due to negligence.

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The National Transportation Safety Board released its preliminary report Thursday on the investigation into the El Faro tragedy.

According to their findings, the U.S. Coast Guard received distress alerts from the 737 foot cargo ship on October 1 around 7:15 a.m.

The ship was 36 nautical miles northeast of Acklins and Crooked Islands, Bahamas, and close to the eye of Hurricane Joaquin.

The ship was en route from Jacksonville to San Juan, Puerto Rico with a cargo of containers and vehicles.

According to the NTSB report, just a few minutes before the distress alerts, the El Faro master called TOTE Maritime’s designated person ashore and reported the ship was experiencing some flooding. He said the crew had controlled the flooding but the ship was listing at 15 degrees and lost propulsion.

The Coast Guard and TOTE were unable to reestablish communication with the ship. Of the 33 crew members on the Jacksonville-based ship, 28 were U.S. citizens and five were from Poland.

The Coast Guard deployed helicopters and search vessels to the ship’s last known position, but the search was halted due to hurricane force conditions.

The report stated that on Sunday, October 4, a damaged lifeboat, two damaged liferafts, and a deceased crewmember wearing an immersion suit were found. The next day, a debris field and oil slick were found, and the Coast Guard determined the El Faro was lost and declared the event a major marine casualty.

The Coast Guard suspended the unsuccessful search for survivors at sundown on Wednesday, October 7.

On Tuesday, October 6, the National Transportation Safety Board launched a full team to Jacksonville to lead the federal investigation in cooperation with the Coast Guard, the American Bureau of Shipping, and TOTE as parties.

The U.S. Navy Salvage and Diving division of the Naval Seas Systems Command was contracted to locate the sunken ship, assist in the sea floor documentation of the wreckage, and recover the voyage data recorder, according to reports.

Working on board cargo ships like the El Faro can be extremely dangerous. While out to sea, crew members put their lives on the line to ensure that the goods necessary for our daily lives arrive to where they need to be on time. They face dangerous weather conditions and the constant risk of being thrown overboard.

At Whittel & Melton, our Maritime Accident Lawyers are experienced and trained to represent injured seamen and their families, as well as the families of those who have lost loved ones on cargo vessels, like the El Faro. We will represent victims nationwide in maritime personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits.

In many cases, the surviving family members of those who are killed at sea are able to obtain wrongful death compensation under the Jones Act, Death on the High Seas Act, or Admiralty Law.

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More than 200 passengers on two cruise ships, Royal Caribbean’s Legend of the Seas and Celebrity’s Infinity, have fallen ill with norovirus. The CDC is now investigating the outbreak and monitoring clean up procedures on the two ships.

What is Norovirus?

Norovirus is a highly contagious virus that spreads through contaminated food, water and dirty surfaces. Similar to the stomach flu, norovirus can cause up to three days of stomach cramps, diarrhea and vomiting. This usually does not require treatment, but some people may become dehydrated and need liquids or intravenous fluids.

Cruise Ship Liability

Cruise ship passengers do have a bill of rights, but the terms of the ticket contract are what determine passengers’ right to sue.

147301814_1ca9572eb8_mUnder the contract, usually located on the back of the cruise ticket, passengers generally waive their right to sue unless the cruise company was negligent in some way. In order to show the cruise line was negligent, it must be demonstrated that the cruise line had a duty to reasonably care for its passengers, but breached that duty, which in turn, caused you harm.

A reasonable standard of care often translates to mean that the cruise company took adequate measures to clean rooms and restrooms, handled and stored food and water properly and made a reasonable effort to quarantine sick passengers to stop the spread of disease. Lastly, it must be shown that the cruise company’s breach of duty is what caused your injury. In the case of norovirus, the cruise company may allege that you already had the virus when you came aboard the ship. It could even claim that you picked it up on shore during one of the stops. However, in this case, it will be quite difficult for Celebrity and Royal Caribbean to argue that the 200 passengers were already sick before coming onto their ships.

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For the first time ever, Florida Gov. Rick Scott has the opportunity to sign into law a bill imposing restrictions on how parasailing companies conduct their business. The new laws would require operators to carry $1 million of insurance per rider and would ban parasailing in sustained winds topping 20 mph or gusts reaching 25 mph.

According to a senate report, between 2001 and October of 2013, there have been 21 parasailing accidents in Florida that have resulted in 23 injuries and six deaths.

Of those that have lost loved ones is an Ocala woman who lost her youngest daughter to a parasailing accident in Pompano Beach in 2007. Her older daughter was left with brain damage.

parasailingThe mother blames the tragedy on a void of regulation in the parasailing industry, something she hopes this new law will change.

The company that took the Ocala woman’s teenage daughters out parasailing apparently did not keep their equipment in good shape or watch out for inclement weather conditions.

Once the teens were out, the wind began to pick up and the girls asked to be let down, however the wench did not have enough strength to pull them down to safety. The decaying rope snapped, dragging the teens and the yellow parasail into the roof of a two-story home, and finally coming to rest in a tangled mess in a tree.

The daughter that suffered brain damage, now 24, continues to experience side effects from her injuries. She is now a massage therapist, but constant headaches make the physical work quite difficult. Her mother believes she suffers from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Many people flock to the beaches of Florida year-round to escape colder temperatures and enjoy some fun in the sun. Most tourists partake in many water adventures, parasailing being one of them, however, many of them fail to recognize the potential dangers involved. Parasailing should be an enjoyable time, but without proper safety measures in place, these types of accidents can lead to permanent and life-threatening injuries, including traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord trauma, back injuries, head injuries, paralysis, broken bones, death from falls and even drowning.

There are many careless acts of negligence that can result in parasailing accidents, including:

  • Equipment  Failure – This can include malfunctions with the boat, harness, towline or sail
  • Improperly Trained Staff
  • Absence of Safety Measures
  • Unlicensed Company or Operator
  • Operator Negligence
  • Unsuitable Parasails
  • Staff Failing to Monitor Weather Conditions or Stay Updated on Alerts
  • Boat Operators Moving too Close to Other Boats and Structures
  • Staff Failing to Demonstrate Proper Safety Techniques to Passengers

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A 43-year-old Miami man was killed Saturday while boating in Key Largo with his girlfriend.

Autopsy reports are pending at this time.

The girlfriend claims the man jumped into the water to cool off, but the current began sweeping him away. He apparently grabbed onto a fishing line they had in the water, but it broke. She tried to throw the man a life preserver, but the man was too far away to reach it.

The girlfriend told authorities this was her first time on a boat and she did not know how to operate it.

The Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission responded to the accident site and located the man’s body.

boating key largo.jpgBoating is practically a state sport in Florida. Numerous people own boats and enjoy cruising the waterways for recreational or fishing purposes on the weekend or while on vacation. However, a day on the water can turn tragic in just seconds when someone on the boat is careless or negligent in their actions. If you or someone you care for has been injured or killed in a boating accident, you may be entitled to recover damages for your losses.

The main causes of boating accidents can be attributed to the following acts of negligence:

• No Proper Lookout
• Excessive Speed
• Operator Carelessness
• General Inattentiveness
If you or a loved one has been the victim of a boating accident in West Palm Beach, Miami or the surrounding areas, consult with a Palm Beach County Boating Accident Injury Attorney at Whittel & Melton today. Our Florida Injury Lawyers have extensive experience handling all types of boating accident cases, from cruise ship injuries to fishing boat fatalities. We thoroughly investigate all boating accident cases to uncover the possible causes of your accident so that you receive full and fair compensation for any pain and suffering the boating accident has caused you and your family.

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Ten people were sent to the hospital Sunday after two boats collided near Elliott Key in Biscayne National Park.

The crash occurred about 6:30 p.m. Sunday when a 36-foot Carrera powerboat carrying about 16 people hit another boat carrying two people.

According to officials, the second boat sank. Authorities could not specify what kind of boat it was.

358823_motorboat_on_lake.jpgFortunately, no one was killed.

One of the boaters was airlifted to Kendall Regional Medical Center. Nine others were also taken there.

The Carrera was towed to Black Point Marina in Cutler Bay.

Investigators are still trying to identify what caused the crash.

While most of the details surrounding this accident are unclear, it is important to point out that both boat captains could be liable for the injuries and property damage this collision caused. At this time, there have been no indications that alcohol was involved in the crash. According to The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, authorities did give a field sobriety test to both captains, however no blood testing was done to confirm whether either captain had been drinking while boating. If either boat captain was operating their vessel while intoxicated, which is illegal in the state of Florida just like driving under the influence, the drunken boat operator would likely be found negligent and held liable for any damages.

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With spring break still in effect, many residents of Florida and visitors alike are taking advantage of the tropical climate and getting out on the water. It is the perfect time to get away from school and work and take a break by cruising along the coastline for some fun and sun. However, be reminded that Florida continues to be the most dangerous state for boating accidents.

Unfortunately, every year Florida sees far more boating accidents than any other state in the country. In fact, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, nearly 700 boating accidents were reported in Florida last year alone.
The state of California ranks second in boating accidents, and saw close to 400 maritime accidents last year.

49819_party_boats-1.jpgWhy do we see so many boating accidents every year? Keep in mind that Florida has more registered boats than any other state. The most recent statistics show that Florida had more than 914,000 registered vessels in 2010.

In 2011, Monroe County was cited as the most dangerous place for boating accidents, with more than 90 reported boating incidents. In that same year, Miami-Dade County had 74 boating accidents, Palm Beach County saw 58 watercraft incidents and Broward County reported 41 maritime accidents.

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Two cruise industry groups, Cruise Lines International Association and European Cruise Council, announced a set of new safety measures recently that will focus on lifejacket storage, stability of heavy objects and operating procedures in the bridge area.

The new policies are the most recent to come out after an intense review of the Costa Concordia shipwreck in January.

One of the biggest changes requires new cruise ships for which a contract is placed on or after July 1, 2013 to stow lifejackets near muster stations or lifeboats so they are easily accessible in case of emergency. In the past, most cruise lines have kept lifejackets in passenger rooms.

In addition, cruise lines must also make sure there is a way to secure heavy items like pianos, treadmills or televisions at all times in case of severe weather so that passengers are guarded against injury.

Lastly, the industry has implemented a policy of enforcing consistent operating procedures on the bridge between ships on different brands owned by the same company. Cruise lines are currently working on fulfilling this policy.

1193456_cruise_ship.jpgThousands of passengers are injured on cruise ships every year. However, it is important to recognize that cruise lines have an obligation to provide passengers with a safe environment. As a passenger aboard a cruise ship, you expect to enjoy a safe vacation. Sadly, many passengers are injured or killed due to cruise ship negligence. When a cruise line fails to maintain or properly inspect the ship or does not provide adequate security, serious injuries and even death can result.

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49819_party_boats.jpgAn Orlando boat dealer accused of operating a boat while under the influence of alcohol, killing a woman and injuring several others, was sentenced to six years in prison Tuesday.

The accident that took place on Lake Irma in east Orange County in July 2006 killed a 20-year-old former Amateur Athletic Union basketball star.

The man pleaded no-contest to charges of operating a boat under the influence of alcohol and three counts of boating under the influence.

State prosecutors dropped other charges against the man including, vessel homicide, boating under the influence causing damage, and reckless operation of a vessel.

A judge ordered the man to serve three years’ probation and to speak publicly about the dangers of drinking alcohol.

The crash took place around 4:30 a.m. on July 30, 2006. The man was apparently operating the boat without lights and rammed into a dock.

Witnesses claim the man consumed at least eight cocktails before taking the boat out.
The passengers on board the boat suffered broken arms, a collapsed lung, a lacerated liver and facial fractures. The deceased suffered a broken neck and later died at the hospital.

Many Florida residents own boats and enjoy the freedom that comes along with recreational boating. While boating can be a fun activity for people of all ages, when proper safety precautions are not taken, dangerous accidents can occur jeopardizing the well-being of all passengers. When preventable accidents happen on the water, the boat’s operator could be subject to criminal and civil penalties. If you or someone you love has been injured or killed in a boating accident due to the negligence of another, it is important to seek the help of a Florida Maritime Attorney who can fight for the compensation you are entitled to.

While many boating accidents occur when vessels collide with one another, these accidents often involve boats crashing into stationary structures such as docks, piers and harbors. These collisions can cause passengers to be knocked overboard or suffer serious injuries due to the impact of the accident. Boating accidents can be caused by a variety of factors, with the most common being:

• Inattentive or Distracted Driving
• Alcohol and Drugs
• Improper Lighting
• Poorly Maintained Boats
• Inexperienced Boat Operators

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