Florida is known for having a vibrant boating culture. Unfortunately, that boating culture has a hidden price, vessel accidents. According to reports by the Treasure Coast Newspapers, in 2021, Florida boaters experienced a total of 751 accidents, including 60 fatalities, 469 injuries, and roughly $20 million in property damage. The report states that the leading causes of the boating accidents were collisions with other vessels, accounting for 250 crashes, and collisions with fixed objects, accounting for 149 of the crashes. The report goes on to highlight that as Florida vessel registration numbers have increased every year since 2013, so have boating accidents. Causes of the crashes and accidents range from drugs, alcohol, and tricky weather conditions, to difficulties navigating unfamiliar routes.
Florida boat drivers and passengers should be aware of the laws on the books in the state when it comes to vessel accidents. In Florida, vessel homicide is defined as the killing of a human being by the operation of a vessel by another in a reckless manner likely to cause the death of, or great bodily harm to, another. Vessel homicide does not require that the person knew that the accident result in injury or death. This is a serious charge that can result in significant jail time for anyone convicted. A recent news article detailed a fatal Florida boat crash.
According to the news article, the accident occurred when a Palm City man was driving his friend’s 26-foot Caroline Composite center console motorboat through the Intercoastal in October 2019 when he crashed into a channel marker at high speed. Five of the eight people in the boat were tossed overboard. The driver’s wife and his friend’s 20-month-old daughter died in the crash. The accident occurred around 7:40 pm in the evening when the two families piled into the boat after dinner. Investigators state that the driver had several drinks with dinner prior to getting behind the wheel and deciding to take a shortcut home. Prosecutors said that it was a dark and hazy night and the boat’s GPS was not working when the driver slammed into an unlit channel marker.