Articles Posted in Recreational Boating & Water Sport Accidents

Sadly, another catastrophic incident has occurred involving a duck boat, a popular tourist attraction in Branson, Missouri, this past Thursday. Severe weather resulted in its capsizing and sinking in Table Rock Lake, while carrying 31 passengers.  17 people were killed and many more were injured. Ripley’s Entertainment Inc. operates the duck boat tours in Branson Missouri after purchasing the Branson location last December from Ride the Ducks franchise. Upon purchasing the Branson Ride the Ducks operation, Ripley stated that not much would change under the new ownership.

lake-300x201What is a Duck Boat?

A duck boat is an amphibious vehicle that operates on land and on sea. It is a tour that is primarily offered in lake, river, and harbor cities. The operation of duck boats both on land and at sea have resulted in serious accidents due to the unusual nature of this vehicle.  In fact, the previous owners of the Branson duck boat, Ride the Ducks, have been involved in other prior accidents. Continue reading

Two weeks ago we reported about a fatal Bahamas tour boat explosion. Sadly, another tour boat accident has occurred. The most recent incident occurred when 23 passengers on a sightseeing tour boat were injured after getting too close to an exploding volcano off the Big Island of Hawaii on Monday.

volcano-221x300Lava Ocean Tours is a tour boat operator in Hawaii who received a special permit to transport tourists 165 feet off the coast near Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano. The volcano had been erupting for more than 2 months prior to the incident, destroying as many as 700 homes. Despite prior lawsuits against Lava Ocean Tours alleging they failed to warn their passengers of the dangers, the tour operator continues to operate their tour boats close to the volcano. Video footage captures screaming passengers the moment molten rock and ash exploded hundreds of feet into the air and struck the boat called the Hot Spot. “We were pelted with the rocks and it embedded in your scalp and everything and the heat and the steam — you could feel it,” describes one of the passengers on the boat. Another passenger said he got third-degree blistering burns on his leg. Continue reading

News outlets have reported that last Sunday afternoon, another tragic boating accident occurred on our Florida waterways. According to various news reports, Brad Martin Bramblett, a 59-year-old man, was ejected from his personal watercraft near the Panama City Marina. After falling overboard, the 17-foot Aquasport then circled around and ran over Bramblett. He sadly died from his injuries.

boat-300x200The Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission (“FWC” is the agency responsible for the investigation of a boating accident such as this and will conduct a full investigation and render a report issuing their findings. Whether it was due to some type of mechanical failure on the part of the boat, operational error, or even intoxication, remains to be seen. It is yet another example of the dangers of operating a boat on the waterways here in Florida and emphasizes again the critical need to be completely familiar with the operation of the boat, as well as the safety rules and regulations governing safety at sea.

A 20-year-old woman has been charged with two felonies and three misdemeanors related to a recreational boating accident she was involved in on July 15, when the boat she was operating ran out of control. According to news reports, Dominique Effinger lost control of the 21-foot boat after making a sharp turn at a high speed while intoxicated, resulting in ten passengers being thrown into the water of Lake Gage, Indiana. The passengers were seriously injured, including one arm amputation and one passenger skull fracture. Prosecutors have filed five charges against the driver which includes felony charges of operating a boat while intoxicated resulting in serious bodily injury and operating a boat with an alcohol concentration of at least .08 resulting in serious bodily injury.

indiana-300x222This was sadly not the only deadly boating accident we heard about that weekend. In Tampa, Florida, on July 16, two passengers were reported thrown from their boat when the boat was turning. One of the passengers were killed as a result of the accident.

This past week, there were two reported incidents of missing paddle boarders. The first incident occurred in Pensacola Beach Florida, where the body of a missing paddle boarder was found near the Bob Sikes Bridge early Tuesday morning. The victim, a male 26-year-old from Texas, was reported missing on Sunday, when a tourist found his paddle board and life jacket floating in Little Sabine. It is unknown at this time whether he was wearing a life jacket.

paddleboard-300x225The second incident involved another male in his 20s who went missing Sunday night at Hobie Beach, which is off the Rickenbacker Causeway. His body was found a couple of hours later. Bystanders had saw him fall off his board and went to help him, while others called 911. By the time they reached the area, the victim was already submerged under water. He was reported to not have been wearing a life jacket. According to the employees at the rental company the male had rented the paddle board from, the company in fact has a life jacket requirement. It is unknown why the victim was not in compliance with the requirement at this time. An investigation is underway to determine the cause of the death and whether the victim knew how to swim.

MIAMI, Florida–Two spring-breakers quickly saw the fun and thrill of riding a jet ski turn to the terror of almost getting run over by a cruise ship. This past Saturday, two jet skiers were riding on these personal watercrafts right by the mouth of the Port Canaveral harbor in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, when their jet skis flipped them over into the water. At the same time, the Carnival Magic cruise ship was navigating out of the Port Canaveral Harbor. This meant that the two teenagers, ages 19 and 20, were now in the water, watching the approaching cruise ship come at them.

jetski-300x225Imagine a 130, 000-ton cruise ship coming at you, and imagine the horror of the pilot knowing there was no way to maneuver out of the way of the two girls. There is little ability to quickly maneuver a large passenger cruise ship, which in this case was the cruise ship owned by Carnival Cruise Line. Not only is it hard to quickly maneuver a large cruise ship but it was also hard for the girls to swim out of the way, as a breeze was pushing the woman more into the path of the approaching cruise ship according to the Port Canaveral Harbor Pilot Capt. Doug Brown. Capt. Doug Brown quickly alerted the Brevard County Sheriff’s Deputy who was at patrol boat nearby to come help. Luckily the deputy was able to rescue the two girls, as Brown tried to change the ship’s course.

MIAMI, Florida– We previously reported about the tragic accident that took the life of star baseball pitcher José Fernandez of the Florida Marlins in September. Also killed in the boating accident were the two men on the boat with Fernandez, Emilio Jesus Macias and Eduardo Rivero. Macias was a banker, and Rivero, a sales representative at Carnival Cruise Lines. While Rivero was a friend of José Fernandez, Macias had just met Fernandez for the first time a few hours before the fatal boat accident. In our last report in October we had mentioned that the families of Macias and Rivero had hired attorneys. Over the past week, both families filed suit against Fernandez’s estate.

rock-jetty-1408334-300x225At the time of the crash, Jose Fernandez’s career was blossoming. In fact, it is reported that he was scheduled to sign a $30 million contract which would have taken place sometime shortly after the date he was killed in the boating accident that happened in Miami Beach Florida, when a high-powered boat he owned crashed into a jetty that was extended out of the government cut.

MIAMI, Florida–On Sunday night a man in his 30s was found dead in Biscayne Bay, located in Miami. The man had been operating a Jet Ski. The man was found next to a very damaged Jet Ski after something had happened causing the tragic accident. Therefore, it is unknown at this time what had caused the death. It is not clear whether another WaveRunner was involved, or whether another person was involved. There will have to be determination of why this particular Jet Ski accident happened, resulting in another death of an operator of these types of personal watercrafts.

jetski-night-300x182I have reported many times that personal watercrafts, including Jet Skis, are dangerous instrumentalities, and anyone operating a Jet Ski should be experienced with the operation of the Jet Ski, and basic safety rules. In fact, Florida boating safety laws require a watercraft livery to provide specific safety instructions, ensuring the person knows how to operate a Jet Ski prior to navigating one on the waters. In this case we are not sure whether the man involved in the death had rented the equipment and what kind of experience he had in operating Jet Skis.

It was reported that a 45-foot fishing boat was hit by what is called a rogue wave, causing the boat to start sinking off the coast of Maine. Fortunately Coast Guard rescued the fisherman, and nobody died as a result of this incident.

wave3-300x199Rogue waves are not unknown to the maritime world. There is in fact a saying that the sea is a “harsh mistress” that can develop powerful waves and wind, and is able to cause much harm to vessels and structures. However, vessels should be prepared for this type of rough weather based on modern day equipment, which is able to provide up to date forecasts of the seas, and when conditions that the vessel plans on encountering may be rough.

MIAMI, Florida– This past Tuesday, three teenagers were rescued off the Florida Keys after their boat flipped over. The three teen boys were smart enough to stay on top of their capsized 22-foot rental boat until they were rescued. According to the police, the rental boat had been anchored about 2.5 miles off shore when it started taking on water. The boys cut the anchor line but there was already too much water in the boat, causing it to flip over.  The young teens then climbed to the top of the hull and one of them called 911 on their cellphone. A Monroe County Marine Deputy and a Florida Fish and Wildlife Investigator were able to find and rescue the boys.

keywest-300x217This boating accident again illustrates the dangers of operating a motor boat, even in the bay waters, as we saw in another capsizing incident earlier this week. The three boys were ages 18, 16, and 18. Although old enough to operate a boat, I wonder as to their experience in operating a boat. A boat is a dangerous instrumentality. These three young men are very lucky because they were in the middle of the ocean, far away from other boats. It was fortunate that the rescue team could find them in time before their boat went completely under water. This incident also illustrates the need to wear lifejackets at all times. The boys were not wearing lifejackets at the time and were not able to access them after their boat flipped over.

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