Articles Posted in Boating Accidents

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artemis-americas-cup.jpg As the sport of sailing has developed over the years, so too has the danger that comes along with the new “space-age” boats that race like cars across the waves. Sailors who race in America’s Cup know the risks and rewards that come along with these new boats, but the recent death of British Olympic champion Andrew “Bart” Simpson has prompted individuals involved with the sport to take a closer look. Authorities are currently investigating the cause of Simpson’s death, specifically why the 72-foot catamaran nose-dived and capsized last Thursday after finishing a challenging maneuver. They are hoping the investigation will reveal any safety issues with the new high-tech boats.

The accident involving the boat sailed by Artemis Racing of Sweden trapped Simpson, thirty-six, under the seven-ton boat for more than ten minutes. Rescue crews attempted to revive Simpson, but their efforts were unsuccessful. This was not the first accident involving these “high-performance catamarans,” which were introduced into the sport after Oracle Team USA won the Cup in 2010 with a giant trimaran. The boats were an attempt to revive the sport by capturing the attention of more spectators. The boats look much flashier than older models that have been around the sport for years and have the ability to go much faster. However, the sailor of the boat must be careful because one mistake in maneuvering the boat through the breeze could land in horrible disaster.

According to an America’s Cup organizing official, Iain Murray, the conditions Thursday were typical of San Francisco Bay, which often sees very gusty winds. The Artemis Racing team was said to be performing a seemingly normal maneuver under seemingly normal conditions. Oracle Team USA and Artemis Racing both declined to comment on the safety of the boats. Murray further commented that these boats are part of an ongoing effort to take sailing to the next level. Jimmy Spithill of Oracle Team USA compared steering the catamaran to driving a race car. He further described the actual structure of the boat, which is “suspended on these tiny pieces of engineered carbon fiber.” This technology is “cutting-edge” and sailors are pushing these boats to the limits. British entrepreneur Keith Mills has expressed concerns over the safety of the boat and said that the boats were much too risky for him to support.

America’s Cup fatality raises safety questions, www.palmbeachpost.com May 11, 2013

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article-2262003-16EC894E000005DC-71_638x465.jpg A Hialeah woman is now dead after the boat she was riding crashed into a concrete piling underneath the MacArthur Causeway. Thirty-five year old Janette Africano and her boyfriend were spending the day out on the water in an 18-foot read and white boat when a cruise ship entered their path near the MacArthur causeway. When the cruise ship was making a turn in front of them, the couple decided to turn around.

As the couple turned around, the currents near the bridge became rougher and the couple drifted toward the pilings. Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission spokesman stated that they believe Africano may have stood up to prevent the boat from colliding into the pilings. Regardless the boat “violently slammed into the piling, fatally injuring her.” Africano suffered severe blunt trauma to the head and she later died at Jackson Memorial Hospital’s Ryder Trauma Center.

The cause of the accident is still under investigation but the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission spokesman stated that the accident is “considered ‘unusual’ because it involves a single boat and neither excessive speed or alcohol appear to be a factor.'” No charges have been filed as of yet but investigators are “looking at every possible cause, including mechanical failure and the experience of the driver.”

Investigators to determine cause of fatal MacArthur Causeway boating accident, www.miamiherald.com January 13, 2013.

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0 (1).jpg A South Florida man, Mandy J. Romeu, was convicted of BUI (Boating Under the Influence) manslaughter in October of this year and was sentenced to ten years in prison for his crime. According to authorities, in May 2010, Romeu was drinking with two friends when he invited them to take a ride on his 34-foot powerboat. He crashed into the navigational market and one of the passengers, Christopher Smith was thrown from the boat. He died at a local hospital.

At the time of the accident, Romeu’s blood alcohol level was found to be 0.137 percent and 0.132 percent after the crash, which is almost two times the 0.08 legal limit. Romeu was sentenced by a Palm Beach County judge this past week. Romeu’s attorney has indicated that he plans to appeal the sentence.

Man gets 10 years for fatal drunken boating crash, www.miamiherald.com December 04, 2012

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6224259887_41dea9a9b7_z.jpeg Twenty-year-old Colby Siegel’s body was found dead yesterday morning after his boat struck a marker near Santa Rosa Sound. His body was found less than thirty yard from the marker. The collision forced Siegel and two other men off of the boat. The exact cause of death is unknown.

Siegel and the two other men, 19-year-old Taylor Wimberly and 23-year-old Derek Richards, were heading back from a fishing trip around 3:00 in the morning when they collided with Marker 41. Siegel’s body was reported missing at the time but found hours later, at 7:44 a.m. One of the other passengers swam to shore for help and was able to flag down a vehicle. The Coast Guard responded to the accident, and sent a dive unit to look for Siegel.

Siegel, who owned the boat, was not operating it at the time of the accident. The accident remains under investigation by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. Siegel is from Hurlburt and works as an airman. He leaves behind his wife.

UPDATE: Hurlburt airman killed in boating accident identified, www.miamiherald.com October 21, 2012.

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OD7Cn.St.56.jpeg Two years ago, over the July 4th holiday, Eulices Alvarez Barrios tossed a drunken Domingo Vilalta, 22, off of his idle boat, leaving the passenger to fend for himself in the “busy” Intracoastal Waterway. Vilalta died when he was caught by the propellers of a nearby vessel and “slashed to death”. Recently, Miami-Dade prosecutors charged Barrios with manslaughter for throwing Vilalta off of his boat.

According to Barrios’ defense attorney, the whole event was an accident. While aboard Barrios’ boat, Vilalta, who was drunk and under the influence of drugs, thrust the boat’s throttle and sent the boat forward. The sudden force of the boat forced a woman overboard, where she and another woman were almost “cut to ribbons” by the boat’s propellers. Barrios then kicked Vilalta off the boat. Barrios left the scene believing, as did everyone else aboard the boat, that Vilalta had boarded a friend’s nearby boat.

Barrios did not Vilalta when he came aboard his boat; instead, Vilalta came along with two female passengers. The boat left for the Intracoastal Waterway sandbar to meet up with other boats. According to prosecutors, Barrios hosted a party boat and provided the music and liquor to his passengers. Vilalta was smoking marijuana and “acting obnoxious” towards women at the sandbar party. Barrios’ boat left to get some dinner around 8:00 p.m. When Barrios put the boat in neutral to check something, one female passenger hopped into the water, and Vilalta forced the boat forward, almost injuring the women. The women swam to a nearby friend’s boat while Barrios “sprang into action,” shutting off the engines and chastising Vilalta. Barrios hurled Vilalta, who was not wearing a life vest, into the water. Vilalta landed near the boat that the women had boarded. Barrios pointed to the other driver, a friend of his, and instructed him to let Vilalta board. All passengers on Barrios’ boat believed Vilalta had boarded the boat. One witness stated that she saw Vilalta clinging to the front of the other boat but believed he eventually boarded the boat. Both boats drove away when one passenger noticed Vilalta was not on either boat. Both drivers searched for him and called police. Vilalta’s body was found two days later. Barrios faces 15 years in prison if convicted.

Miami boating death case goes to trial, www.miamiherald.com August 29, 2012

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jetski.jpg Carlos Alberto Fernandez, a twenty-seven year old South Florida man, drove his personal watercraft (also known as a Jetski) into a twenty-two foot boat that was carrying a family back to port. Fernandez’s friend Jose Luis Moreno, who was riding another personal watercraft, tried to call for help and save Fernandez. Sadly, he was unable to save his friend and Fernandez was pronounced dead shortly after he was pulled out of the water. Fernandez leaves behind a wife and child. The family members were left in shock but none were injured.

Police are trying to determine why the boat and watercrafts were out in the water late at night. Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission spokesperson Jorge Pino stated “It’s hard enough to spot a vessel with navigational lights and proper safety equipment. Now you have a black personal watercraft at night at a high rate of speed. It’s just a recipe for disaster.” Florida law permits personal watercrafts to operate only during the day. Fernandez crashed into the boat around ten o’clock on Sunday night in Biscayne Bay.

Man dies after personal watercraft hits boat in Biscayne Bay, www.miamiherald.com September 31, 2012.

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192XyP.Em.56.jpeg Twenty-eight-year old Kathleen Miskell and her husband of almost three years, Stephen, came to Florida from their home in Connecticut for a relaxing vacation. However, Kathleen Miskell will never return to her home in Connecticut. She and her husband opted to take an afternoon parasail ride with WaveBlast Water Sports, which operates out of Sands Harbor Resort & Marina. Both Kathleen and her husband were given harnesses and then were strapped in to the side-by-side parasail, ready to fly up 200 feet above the ocean. Once in the air, Kathleen’s harness malfunctioned and she fell almost 200 feet into the ocean. Crew workers reeled in Stephen and then went to Kathleen, who was found floating face down in the water. She was rushed to the hospital where she later died.

Kathleen’s harness is now coming under fire. The harness and all other equipment used in Kathleen’s parasailing trip is being investigated by several agencies, including the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the United States Coast Guard, the Broward’s Sherriff’s Office and the National Transportation Safety Board. Mark McCulloch, chairman of the Parasail Safety Council reviewed photos and videos of the accident and believes that her death was caused because of “two support straps that appeared to have been sheared at the seam or stitch point.” He stated, “A cause for that can be poor manufacturing or years of maintenance neglect, which results in decomposition.” He also added that believed the harness to be an old model.

While Kathleen’s death has been ruled an accident, investigators are still attempting to gather facts about the incident. Officials have interviewed the parasailing company owner, the boat driver the relationship between the parasailing company and the hotel where it operates and the main cause of the accident. The relationship between WaveBlast and Sands Harbor Resort & Marina because it affects how much money can be recovered from WaveBlast if WaveBlast is found to have been negligent or to have contributed to the accident.

Parasailing death inquiry to focus on equipment, www.miamiherald.com August 22, 2012.

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0422_loc_ven_BoatCrash2_t607.jpg A couple was spending a late night on their boat, enjoying the views of the shore, when they were run over by a speeding boat. The couple, riding in a 13-foot Boston Whaler, was floating about a mile and a half from the Coconut Grove coastline when a speeding boat ripped through theirs. The larger vessel that crashed into the couple’s boat sped away after the incident, which occurred around 11:00 p.m.

The man, an experienced boated, was seriously injured by the collision. The driver’s girlfriend used her cell phone to call for help; yet, unsure of their location, it took rescuers over an hour to locate the couple in the darkness. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission reported than a Good Samaritan sailing on a boat nearby was able to help locate the injured couple.

When discovered by authorities, the driver was unconscious and was taken to the hospital in serious condition. His girlfriend had sustained head injured as a result of the collision. The victims are recovering from their injuries at Jackson Memorial Hospital, while authorities are looking for the vessel that ran over the couple.

Two injured as boaters collide in waters off Coconut Grove, www.miamiherald.com July 29, 2012.

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Boat-crash.jpg If you’re an avid boater, beware of Monroe County. Monroe County has toped the list again as the state’s most dangerous county for boating this year. With over ninety accidents last year, Monroe County had twenty percent more accidents in 2011 than in 2010 according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. There were six boating deaths and sixty-six boating injuries reported in 2011, including the deaths of three powerboat racers killed in the Key West Super Boat World Championship in November. In order for an accident to be considered “reportable” in the State of Florida, the report must “involve death, disappearance or significant injury; or cause more than $2,000 in damages.”

The Florida Keys was not the only area that boating accidents increased. The entire state of Florida saw a rise in the number of reported accidents. Overall, there were 742 accidents and 67 deaths logged statewide for 2011. Miami-Dade County came in second to Monroe County for the highest number of boating accidents and deaths. Miami-Dade County had 75 “maritime mishaps that caused a total of $16 million in damages,” as opposed to the $1.2 million in total damages that was reported in Monroe County. Other counties in South Florida that topped the list include, Palm Beach County with 58 reported incidents, Broward County with 41 reported incidents and Lee County, also with 41 reported incidents.

Falling overboard remains the most common boating accident and drowning was the main cause of death in two thirds of boating related deaths. There were 742 accidents involving 1,018 vessels in 2011, and boats hitting other boats or crashing into stationary objects were reported in 313 cases. Alcohol use was reported in 10 boating deaths and there were over 300 arrests made for boating under the influence in 2011. Additionally, careless operation, mechanical failure, operator inattention, operator inexperience, bad weather and speeding were the most reported causes of accidents.

Keys No. 1 in Florida boating accidents; Miami-Dade right behind, www.miamiherald.com July 23, 2012.

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070316_jet_ski_accident.jpg Popular R&B artist Usher lost his stepson earlier this week after the eleven-year old suffered a traumatic brain injury. Kile Glover, the son of the Grammy winner’s ex-wife Tameka Foster, was run over by a personal watercraft two weeks ago while boating in Lake Lanier, about forty miles north of Atlanta. Authorities have confirmed that on July 6, 2012, while Glover and a teenage friend were riding on an inner tube attached to the back of a pontoon boat, a personal watercraft crashed into them, injuring the boy.

Following the accident, Glover was raced to Children’s Healthcare at Egleston in Atlanta with a major brain injury and placed on life support. Two weeks later, Glover died of heart failure. Other news reports have stated that the boy was taken off of life support and subsequently died, but sources close to the family have refuted those claims.

The driver of the personal watercraft, Jeffrey Hubbard, is still under investigation by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, but investigators have stated that alcohol was not a factor in the accident. Hubbard was reportedly part of the same group as Glover and his friend. The other teen’s injuries have not been reported.

Usher’s stepson dies 2 weeks after lake accident, www.miamiherald.com July 22, 2012.

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