Florida Boating Accident Critically Injures Teen

A Fourth of July boating accident in Florida has resulted in critical injuries for one 17-year-old boy in Fort Lauderdale. boating1

The teen has not been identified by authorities, but apparently, he was steering the vessel, measured at between 17- and 20-feet, when the vessel struck a sea wall.

Investigators say he was the only person aboard the vessel when it crashed, and it’s still unclear why the collision occurred. Responding units included the Fort Lauderdale fire department, police department land and nautical units and the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission. Additionally, the U.S. Coast Guard has launched its own investigation.

The father of the boy told a reporter his son was expected to be “fine,” though he was undergoing surgery at Broward Health Medical Center.

Although this news was indeed troubling, authorities did expect more than this singular incident over the Fourth of July holiday. Last year on the holiday, just after the fireworks, three boats in Miami collided, four people were killed and several others seriously injured as vessels headed back to their docks in droves after dark.

This resulted in marine police and U.S. Coast Guard officials turning out in full force over the weekend to enforce boating safety laws. Numerous boaters received citations for failure to have proper navigation lights. Dozens were arrested for boating under the influence. (One can be arrested the same as for driving under the influence, with a blood-alcohol concentration of higher than 0.08.)

After that fatal crash, authorities implemented a 15-knot slow speed zone on July 4th and July 5th in an effort to force boats to slow down, particularly as they were all making their way back to the docks.

Area law enforcement say the amount of official presence did have a calming effect on Florida’s east coast waters. There was one capsized boat (with three people rescued), a minor jet ski accident and the sea wall crash in Fort Lauderdale. But beyond that, there no real injuries to speak of.

The FWC in its annual report noted Florida has more boating accidents every year than anywhere else in the country. There were 685 boating accidents reported in all of 2014 in Florida, which is much more than the 426 crashes reported by the second-highest crash site, California.

July is when the majority of boating accidents happen in Florida, and July 4th tends to be one of the worst days in this regard. That this year was relatively low-key is encouraging.

The FWC indicates the majority of reported boating injuries last year were characterized as:

  • Lacerations
  • Contusions
  • Broken bones
  • Head injuries
  • Back injuries
  • Sprains/strains
  • Internal injuries
  • Neck injuries
  • Dislocations
  • Teeth and jaw injuries
  • Burns Spinal injuries
  • Shock
  • Amputation

Of the 51 boating deaths reported in Florida last year, 14 occurred in July – more than any other month. Those incidents involved:

  • Falls overboard
  • Capsizing
  • Collision with fixed object
  • Collision with vessel
  • Flooding/swamping
  • Collision with floating object/person
  • Fall in the boat

Operator youth and inexperience was routinely cited in serious and fatal boating crashes in Florida. In fact, nearly one-third of all reported boating fatalities in Florida last year involved an operator with less than 100 hours of experience. Just 2 percent were under the age of 21.

If you have been injured in a Florida boating accident, contact the Hollander Law Firm at 888-751-7777 for a free and confidential consultation. There is no fee unless we win.

Additional Resources:

Boating accident critically injures 17-year-old, July 4, 2015, By Erika Pesantes and Anne Geggis, Sun-Sentinel

More Blog Entries:

Bate v. Greenwhich Ins. Co. – Default Judgment Following Head-On Collision Upheld, June 30, 2015, Fort Myers Boating Accident Attorney Blog