We’ve written a great deal about boat accidents and the importance of safe boating. One recent accident drives home just how serious a maritime collision can be. Unlike last week’s story, which involved a lot of bad decisions, what could have been a minor collision earlier this month became a tragedy due to conditions.
It started on the Fourth of July, when many Miami boaters go to view the fireworks from sea. Unfortunately, when the fireworks are over, most boaters turn immediately back for shore. That results in a crush of small boats all moving toward a few marinas in the dark, sometimes without adequate lights or even with intoxicated pilots.
It was during this nighttime rush that the collision happened. The Coast Guard received a call from a 36-foot vessel that had been struck and was taking on water. The boat that struck it hadn’t stopped, but continued on at speed into the darkness. This ill omen sparked a frantic search.
Unlike a car, a boat doesn’t necessarily stop when hit. If a car driver takes their foot off the gas, they roll to a stop. But if a boat pilot is knocked out, the boat keeps going. While few details have been released, that may have been exactly what happened.
What is known is that people from the runaway boat were found in the water, and a third boat was hit not long after. As various law enforcement agencies responded to the call for help, no less than eight people were pulled from the water and taken to hospitals. Salvagers tracked down the runaway boat where two more victims were found unconscious.
Four of the injured later died.
Boat collisions are incredibly dangerous at night for a number of reasons:
- Hours may pass before authorities can locate and reach the boats in the dark
- Individuals who fall overboard are harder for search parties to find
- A runaway boat may hit other obstacles or run aground in the dark
- Other boaters may not see the runaway until it’s too late
At Steinger, Greene & Feiner we urge all boaters to make sure vessels are well-lit and to move slowly near harbors and other locations that may have nighttime boat traffic. And if you are involved in an accident at sea, we can help. Contact us for a free consultation today and get the compensation you deserve.