Articles Posted in Boating Fatality


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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A 51-year-old retired astronaut was killed Sunday afternoon while riding on a jet ski with his 22-year-old son off of Pensacola Beach.

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officials claim the man’s 26-year-old son crashed into them with another jet ski.

According to reports, the 26-year-old hit the rear of his father’s jet ski, knocking his father into the water.

The man was pulled onto the beach where friends apparently performed CPR. He was pronounced dead at the hospital.

The man’s two sons were not injured.

The fish and wildlife agency is still investigating the crash.

Jet skiing can be an enjoyable water activity when performed safely and under the supervision of experienced professionals. Unfortunately, some people that engage in jet skiing, tubing, wakeboarding or waterskiing behave recklessly putting themselves and those around them at serious risk for injury or death. Jet ski accidents tend to occur between other riders and fixed objects in and around the water. While no one expects to be injured by another driver when jet skiing, these accidents can and do happen.

According to the U.S. Coastguard, a person is more likely to sustain injuries on a jet ski than on any other type of personal watercraft. Victims of jet ski accidents may suffer head trauma, broken bones, spinal cord injuries end even death. While collisions are one way jet ski drivers may become injured, defective equipment may also cause just as severe injuries including severe burns, amputation and carbon monoxide poisoning. When defective equipment is to blame for a serious jet ski accident, the fault may lie with the rental company that supplied the damaged jet ski or with the manufacturer who sold a defective product.

The Florida Jet Ski Accident Attorneys at Whittel & Melton can help you and your loved ones obtain the compensation to which you are entitled to following a jet ski or boating accident. Wrongful death and personal injury claims involving jet ski or personal watercraft accidents usually contain complicated legal and technical issues. At Whittel & Melton, we can help you hold the reckless or negligent parties responsible for your losses accountable for their actions so that you can obtain full and fair compensation for your suffering.

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Two unrelated incidents off Fort De Soto Park at the end of April spotlight the hazards the public can face as warm spring weather moves in and people return to the water.

A 50-year-old paddle boarder has been missing since April 28 when his board was found near the north entrance of the Manatee River and his car found near Fort De Soto Park. The search has been called off, but officials still hope to locate the missing man.

The following day, a 56-year-old Clearwater woman apparently drowned in the waters near Fort De Soto’s North Beach picnic area.

While weather may not have been a factor in these two incidents, they do show people that they should exercise caution anytime they are in or near the waters, even during as placid a season as spring.

According to a Bay News 9 meteorologist, when cold fronts from winter continue to mesh with the warmer air and water spring brings, strong gusts and rip currents can be produced making it dangerous to swim or kayak or canoe or paddleboard in the open water.

Local safety experts warn the public that those erratic winds should be the top worry of anyone planning to venture into the water this spring.

Gusts of wind can create several problems for swimmers. They can create currents parallel to the shore that can carry swimmers along with them — and away from their part of the beach.

Even more perilous are strong rip currents that can sweep swimmers away from shore, and possibly fatigue those who try to fight.

Experts advise taking the following safety precautions into consideration before embarking on any water expedition:

• If operating a boat, kayak, canoe or paddleboard always make a float plan. This provides
someone with the knowledge of where you’re going and the ability to call for help if you don’t
make it back in time.

• Everyone planning a day on the water needs to check the forecast, as well as the lifeguard flags that indicate swimming conditions.

• If caught in a rip current, do not try and swim against it. Do not panic. Swim parallel until the current lessens its hold on you.

• Know and respect your limitations.

Pasco County boasts more than 30 beaches, parks and preserves that provide residents and visitors with fantastic recreational opportunities. Unfortunately accidents where people play, swim and boat can and do occur. The Florida Personal Injury Attorneys at Whittel & Melton advocate on behalf of victims injured in boating, swimming and water park injury cases. If your water-related accident was the result of someone else’s negligent actions, you may be entitled to compensation. At Whittel & Melton, we will aggressively fight for just compensation for your losses.

The Pasco County Personal Injury Lawyers at Whittel & Melton can help you recover compensation for personal injuries, wrongful deaths and other damages resulting from:

• Jet Ski Accidents
• Accidental Drowning
• Defective Safety Equipment
• Insufficient Warnings
Swimming Pool Drain

Charter Boat Accidents

• Pleasure Boat Accidents
• No Lifeguard on Duty
• Poorly Trained Lifeguards
• Inadequate Swimming Pool Design
• Motel and Hotel Swimming Pool Negligence
• Water Park Injuries
Most insurance adjusters involved in water-related accidents are trained to deny claims. Don’t let insurance adjusters take advantage of the situation by settling for low amounts. When you are involved in an accident, it is important to understand that you have legal rights. At Whittel & Melton, we will seek maximum compensation for your injuries. In the event of a death, we can assist family members of a loved one pursue a wrongful death claim. While we cannot change what happened, we can help you recover financial compensation so that you can focus your efforts on healing.

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A 64-year-old Hawthorne, Florida man was killed Tuesday morning when a fishing expedition turned deadly.

According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission spokesman, the operator of the boat was killed after the airboat capsized. His 50-year-old fishing buddy visiting from New York suffered minor injuries and was taken to Putnam Community Medical Center in Palatka.

The men apparently placed their airboat in the Rodman Reservoir from the Orange Springs boat ramp around 8:30 a.m. The boat rolled over about a half mile from the ramp sending both men into the water.

Both men apparently shared a life jacket and used a cooler to stay afloat.

A man in a canoe found the pair drifting and attempted to paddle them to shore. As they neared the shore, a pontoon boat arrived and the occupants put the men on their boat to take them back to safety.

The Hawthorne man was apparently unresponsive. A Marion County Fire Rescue paramedic pronounced the man dead at the scene.

FWC officials claim the men were in the water for a couple of hours.

An autopsy will be performed to determine the exact cause of death.

Investigators were still trying to uncover the sunken airboat late Tuesday.

Airboats are great for navigating Florida’s swampy marshes and generally used for tourism and fishing trips. While their flat bottoms and raised fans make them perfect for shallow waters, their speed and open nature put occupants at risk for safety hazards. Airboats can reach high speeds, making them difficult to control in the water. Even the most experienced airboat operator can find themselves in an accident, so certain safety precautions should be considered when making an outing:

• Examine the airboat and make sure everything is in working condition. A boat that is in poor condition is unreliable, making it a potentially hazardous vehicle.

• Make sure everyone on the airboat wears a life vest before getting out on the water. A life vest can sometimes be the difference between life and death, even if the water is shallow.

• Pay attention to what is going on in and around the boat.

• Check the Weather Forecast. Inclement weather can be disastrous to your boating excursion, so plan accordingly.

According to the U.S. Coast Guard, nearly 5,000 boating accidents resulted in more than 70 deaths and 3,000 injuries in 2009. An astounding 485 people drowned in Florida in 2009 with 72 percent of victims aged 25 and older, according to the Florida Department of Health. Of these drowning deaths, 73 percent were classified as capable swimmers.

Florida waters are some of the busiest in the nation, so it is no surprise that it logs numerous boating accidents. Because of this, it is in everyone’s best interests to be familiar with boating rules and regulations before a boating trip of any kind.

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The FWC is investigating a boat accident off the coast near Anclote Park that caused the death of a 55-year-old New Port Richey, Florida man. Three other passengers were tossed into the water, but were eventually rescued by Blue Fin Charter boat who also recovered the body of the deceased.

On April 16, 2011 the four boaters were making their way back from a day of fishing when their engine allegedly stopped working. Investigators said that the boaters attempted to anchor the vessel by throwing the anchor off the bow as the waters got rough. The boat was supposedly hit by a large wave that caused the vessel to tip over.

The boat sank into 20 feet of water while three passengers waded in the Gulf. None of the boaters’ were allegedly wearing life vests.

The charter boat that rescued the passengers was met by a USCG vessel at Anclote Park. The condition of the passengers was not released and an FWC spokesman said that it will be up to the medical examiner to determine the cause of death.

Florida has the highest number of registered boating vessels in the United States, according to the 2008 Florida Boating Accident Statistical Report. With a total of 657 reported accidents in 2008, Florida also has the highest number of boating accidents in the U.S. What was the main cause of boating fatalities in 2008? In Florida, the main cause of death amongst boaters was falling overboard. The numbers continue to grow every year.

With the spring and summer months ahead, it is important for Floridians to know the dangers of boating and the proper safety precautions to take when traveling the waterways. The risks of being in a boat accident or drowning are ever-present, so it is important to wear life jackets any time you are aboard a vessel, constantly check weather conditions, maneuver a boat at safe speeds and constantly check the engine and other mechanical equipment for any faults. One of the most important things to have onboard is life saving devices for yourself and all other passengers. If children are present, proper supervision should be given at all times.

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