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Operating a Boat Under the Influence Causes a High Risk of Injury or Death in Palm Beach Boating Accidents

The report from an internal affairs investigation of a boat accident more than a year ago on the Intracoastal Waterway involving a Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Deputy was recently released, reports The Palm Beach Post News.

The Sheriff’s Deputy who lost her arm in a drunk boating accident near Palm Beach will not be disciplined, despite the upheaval of opinions the decision has caused within the department. Following the decision of the lead internal affairs investigator, Capt. Larry Easton stated in a memo “Her off-duty conduct has brought discredit upon PBSO.”
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Palm Beach personal injury lawyers understand the sensitivity of this case due to the fact that an officer of the law was allegedly operating the boat while under the influence of alcohol. Previous reports by the Palm Beach County State Attorney’s Office released months ago indicated that no charges would be filed because not enough evidence was available to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the Sheriff’s Deputy was operating the boat at the time of the crash.

She had signed the boat out from a private club with a friend earlier in the day indicating she would be operating the boat in a safe manner. But due to the nature of the accident, it is unknown who was operating when the accident occurred.

It is reported that another boat headed in the opposite direction created a wake which caused the driver of the boat in question to lose control, crash into pilings with a boat lift attached. The boat overhead fell onto the Sheriff Deputy’s boat, pinning her underwater for 2 minutes and defenseless against the boat propeller which slashed her arm. Her arm had to be amputated while the other passenger suffered from several cuts and a broken nose. Both boat occupants tested positive for a blood alcohol content level of almost twice the legal limit within 30 minutes of the crash.

This case is just another example of how boat operators should always practice safe driving behaviors in order to reduce serious injury or even fatality in a boating accident. We posted previously on our South Florida Injury Lawyers Blog that over 18 percent of boating accidents in 2009 were alcohol or drug-related. There were a total of 51 fatal boating accidents in 2009, which killed 65 people and injured another more than 400 people. Palm Beach County ranked third in reported boating accidents in 2009 with 56 accidents.

Whether you are a recreational boater or ride the waves for a living, boaters should never operate under the influence or drive a boat erratically. You can put you, your passengers, and other boaters in serious danger which can lead to severe injuries, fatality, and many times stringent consequences as a result of your behavior.

If you or someone you know has been involved in a boating accident in Palm Beach or Fort Lauderdale, contact the injury lawyers at Freeman, Mallard, Sharp & Gonzalez, LLC for experienced advice about your rights. Call 1-800-561-777 for a free and confidential appointment today.

Additional Resources:

Sheriff’s office won’t discipline deputy in boating accident, by Alexandra Seltzer, The Palm Beach Post News

Boating Accidents Often Lead to Drowning Victims in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, South Florida Injury Lawyers Blog, May 26, 2011

Fort Lauderdale Air Boat Accident Injures 2 Deputies and a Family of 6, South Florida Injury Lawyers Blog, March 29, 2011

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