Investigating Boating Accidents

Miami Herald: Police say alcohol played no role in fatal boat crash, but bodycam video raises questions

The Miami Herald reported today that the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), which investigates all boating accidents in Florida, has come to the conclusion that alcohol was not a factor in the boating crash of a year ago. That crash happened on September 4, 2022, off of Ocean Reef Club in Key Largo, Florida. In that crash, a boat operated by a real estate developer was carrying 12 teenage girls and 2 adults ­– the operator of the boat and his wife. According to one account, the operator of the boat was familiar with the waterway, a channel outside Ocean Reef. In broad daylight, he drove the boat 47 MPH and struck channel marker no. 15. The boat flipped and one girl died. Another girl was severely injured.

The FWC concluded that alcohol was not a factor. And the officers at the scene did not perform a blood alcohol, breathalyzer, or any roadside sobriety tests. This would indicate that the officers did not believe that there was probable cause to suspect intoxication. But the bodycam footage reveals that the operator of the boat admitted that he had drunk “two beers.” And according to The Herald, the final FWC report found that “police found 61 empty alcohol bottles and cans on his boat the day after they pulled it from the water, along with an empty liquor bottle and half-consumed bottle of champagne.”

Dealing with law enforcement can be frustrating. The final reports take a long time to be published. And the conclusions can either seem wrong or can be wrong. One question is whether the injured people in their civil cases can allege that the driver of the boat was negligent for among other things drinking alcohol even though the driver was not charged with Boating Under the Influence (BUI) or of course convicted or adjudicated as such. The answer is yes. The captain of a vessel is required to handle the vessel in such a way which is “reasonable under the circumstances.” When you are operating a vessel with passengers, drinking even in the slightest is not reasonable.

Hickey Law Firm specializes in “life changing injuries”®. Call us first. Call us now. 800.215.7117

Boating accidents can be deadly. They can result in other life changing injuries. Even if alcohol is not involved, the operator of the vessel in any collision or allision case can be negligent.

Hickey Law Firm handles serious recreational boating cases. We represent the families of those who have died in boating cases and we represent people with life altering traumatic brain injuries, back (spinal column and spinal cord) injuries, and arm injuries which evolve into complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS).

The Best Lawyers in America® recognizes John H. (Jack) Hickey in three areas: Admiralty and Maritime Law, Personal Injury Litigation – Plaintiffs, and Medical Malpractice – Plaintiffs. Hickey is double Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Civil Trial and Admiralty and Maritime Law. He is also Board Certified in Civil Trial by the National Board of Trial Advocacy (NBTA). His specialties include personal injury and wrongful death. When you are injured in a boating accident or maritime accident, you want a specialist. We are specialists.

To schedule a free consultation, please call Hickey Law Firm or fill out our contact form. It is free to you: no fee unless we win. All fees are out of any recovery, not from you. There is no obligation to you before that. None. We are based in Miami and serve clients throughout Florida and across the United States.