Being responsible while operating watercraft can definitely be a matter of life or death. Getting out on the water with friends for a day in the sun should not end in tragedy for you or for others, although that is just the way one 4th of July outing ended for four young people.
A 31-year-old man recently was acquitted at a bench trial of three misdemeanor charges for his role in a boating tragedy that left seven injured and four dead back in 2014. His infractions were likened to someone who did not follow the proper practice at stop sign. According to police, he allegedly “failed to yield the right of way.” Additionally, he was charged with having inadequate running lights on his 33′ pleasure craft.
The events unfolded as a 23-year-old man was attempting to steer a 32′ fishing boat with T-tops into the marina. At some point, his boat broadsided the slightly larger vessel before striking a third boat in the harbor.
The 23-year-old man was killed, along with four other passengers on the boats. Some of the deceased were visiting Miami from New York for the summer holiday.
Authorities ran tests on the deceased boat operator that indicated that he had been drinking before the fatal collision. The man who was charged with the misdemeanors did not face more severe charges because no evidence was discovered that indicated he had behaved in a manner that rose to the level of criminal recklessness.
The fact of his criminal acquittal has no bearing on any potential civil actions taken by the injured or the survivors of the deceased.
While it may be useful to include information from any criminal proceedings when presenting a case for wrongful death to the Miami civil courts, it is not necessary for a successful resolution to any case.
Source: CBSMiami, “Man Acquitted Of Infractions In Quadruple Fatal Boating Crash,” Jan. 27, 2016