A 24-year-old Hollywood man was killed and his girlfriend seriously injured in a Florida boating accident in which the vessel, cruising along the Intracoastal Waterway, slammed into a concrete dock. The decedent was thrown from the boat, his head striking the sea wall behind a private home, according to the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC).
Two others on board, including the girlfriend of decedent, were seriously hurt and had to be transported to nearby Broward Health Medical Center by emergency crews. A fourth person on board was unhurt.
Although the investigation is in the early stages, authorities say the boat was moving alongside another vessel, which had six people on board. One witness indicated the two boats were “splashing” each other, and both were reportedly traveling at a high rate of speed. There is some indication two people might have been operating the boat on which decedent was aboard, and investigators are examining whether alcohol may have been a factor in the crash.
Authorities say the investigation could be ongoing “for quite a while.”
According to the latest annual boating fatality report released by the FWC, Florida has the most boating fatalities of anywhere else in the country – 50 percent higher than the state with the second-highest number of boat-related deaths, California, which has double the population as Florida.
Despite having year-round boating, the summer months are a peak time for Florida boating accident and deaths, with July and August having higher numbers that any other month. There were 14 boating deaths in Florida in July 2014 and another 9 in August.
There are a total of 900,000 vessels registered in the state, and the boating fatality rate as well as the actual number of boating deaths has climbed in recent years. In 2012, there were 56 boating deaths, and the fatality rate per number of registered vessels was 6.1. Jump to 2014, when there were a total of 73 boating deaths with a fatality rate of 8.1.
The injury rate, meanwhile, has remained steady, at 42 in 2012, down to 41 in 2014. The type of injuries sustained in Florida boating accidents included (in order of prevalence):
- Broken Bones
- Head Injuries
- Back Injuries
- Neck Injuries
- Teeth and Jaw Injuries
- Spinal Injuries
More than half of those injured were operators, while about one-third were operators. A small percentage were swimmers.
Of those who died, about a quarter were killed as a result of trauma (as in the recent Fort Lauderdale case), and about 70 percent succumbing to drowning.
In the Fort Lauderdale accident, authorities don’t know exactly how fast the boat was traveling, but indicate it would have had to likely be traveling at speeds higher than the posted limit, considering a passenger was ejected with significant force upon impact with the dock.
Injuries for the two who were taken to the hospital are not believed to be life-threatening.
Officials remind those who are headed out onto a boat this summer to follow safe practices. Some key points include:
- Always check the local weather conditions. Get out of the water if there are darkening clouds, volatile winds or sudden drops in temperature.
- Make proper use of life vests. This is important as the majority of boating deaths result from falls overboard and drowning.
- Avoid alcohol. The probability of a boating accident doubles when alcohol is involved.
- Take a boating course.
- Adhere to posted speed limits and other warnings.
If you have been involved in a Florida boating accident, contact an experienced injury lawyer to learn more about your options for compensation of medical bills, lost wages and more.
Call Freeman Injury Law — 1-800-561-7777 for a free appointment to discuss your rights.
Man, 24, killed, 2 others injured in Intracoastal Waterway Boat Crash, May 30, 2014, Sun-Sentinel
More Blog Entries:
Smith v. Hopper – Pedestrian Accident Weighed, May 31, 2015, Fort Lauderdale Boating Injury Lawyer Blog