As a maritime attorney for almost 30 years, I have seen many fatalities in connection with boating accidents as a result of the failure to wear a life jacket. Recently, I did a blog publishing statistics of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Committee reporting 4604 accidents that involved 672 deaths reflecting the number of injuries and fatalities in Florida due to boating accidents. The report emphasized that one of the major causes of fatalities is the failure to wear a life jacket. There has been boater safety education legislation introduced in different states which specifically are designed to educate boaters about safety precautions, including the importance all occupants wearing life jackets.
It was reported that over the weekend, during bad weather here in Florida, that a pleasure boat capsized in rough seas off the Florida Keys. An 80-year old woman was reported missing and presumed drowned. A commercial boat came by and rescued three men that were clinging to the overturned watercraft, and they alerted the Coast Guard. A four year old girl, as well as three women were then located holding on to a floating cooler. The Coast Guard reported that the boaters were not wearing life jackets when the boat capsized.
The seven people that were rescued are reported to have floated for nearly a day in the rough weather after the boat sank.
This tragic accident emphasizes the need to be very aware of the weather forecast, and not to take a boat out in extremely rough weather, as well as emphasizes the need to wear life jackets.
Our hearts go out to the victims and the families of this tragic incident. Thankfully, it appears that the seven people that were rescued will recover.
The commercial fisherman who initially discovered the capsized boat should be applauded for his efforts in helping rescue the individuals, as well as the efforts of the United States Coast Guard.
Our firm continues to be safety advocates for those harmed at sea.