MIAMI, Florida–A boating accident was reported to have occurred on Black Creek, a tributary of the St. Johns River. Black Creek is located in Clay County, Florida. The woman who was a passenger on the boat suffered serious injuries that required hospitalization. A male passenger, also on the boat, was sent to the hospital as well. The boat they were traveling on hit a tree at about 30 mph. Charles Spiegel, who was driving the Boston Whaler involved in the crash, described the accident as follows, “I just came around the bend and there’s an overhanging branch. I cut it hard and broadsided the tree branch.”
We are familiar with the well-publicized fatal boating accident involving famous Miami Marlins pitcher José Fernandez, whose boat struck a projected jetty at night, resulting in three deaths. The issue of better lighting and better warnings has been discussed since that fatal accident.
Here, at Black Creek, there was a sign present, warning boaters to be careful in the area. The concern is that there was a fatal boat crash in this area years ago, indicating that this can be a dangerous area to navigate. Other boaters have in fact said that this is a difficult area to navigate, especially if one is not familiar with the area. There are a lot of sharp turns present, which often times can lead to losing control of the boat, with the result being a boat crash.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and Clay County are investigating the crash. Possibly, additional safety precautions will be added as a result of this recreational boating accident.
We often report about the dangers of boating, and have shared the reports indicating Florida to be one of the leading states as far as boating accidents and boating fatalities. In fact, not having a proper lookout has been the primary cause of boating accidents in Florida, with 178 accidents in the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission annual report. Despite the fact that the branch was reported to come out of nowhere, it still seems that this accident may have been prevented had the boat operator been keeping a proper lookout. Additionally, if a proper lookout had been kept, the boat operator may have seen the warning sign advising boaters in that area to be careful.
We constantly try to bring stories like these to the attention of the public to create increased awareness, and hopefully increased concern for safety on the waterways. Boating is obviously a fun and enjoyable activity, but as this case demonstrates, there are many twists and turns along the way, including obstacles, as well as other dangers out there on the waterways.
Proper training in the operation of a motor boat from an approved Coast Guard course is essential for boat operators. Of course experienced boat operators still must not get too comfortable on the waterways and must always remain vigilant while operating these dangerous instrumentalities, adhering to all of the rules of the road, and following safety procedures.