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.
This 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.
In this case, I am not sure whether the there was any problem with the boat, which was a rental boat. In such a case there could be a claim brought against the company that rented the boat. I am not sure what their requirements were before renting the boat to these three young men with respect to proof of experience, and what instructions, if any, the young men were given.
The exact reason the boat capsized is unknown at this time. This will have to be ascertained before any blame can be placed. Fortunately, any blame will simply be for the purpose of documenting lessons learned, and to prevent such a thing from happening again, as this case had a happy ending, the young men rescued without any personal injuries. Most likely the boat will be a total loss but that is unknown at this time, and insurance will most likely cover the loss for the boat rental company. Whether the boat rental company will assert a claim against the young man for their actions, if it is determined their actions caused the boat to capsize, remains to be seen. Most likely the young men signed paperwork making them responsible for any damages caused to the boat. Jurisdiction over these type of accidents and investigations falls within the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
Again, operating motorboats and personal watercraft of any kind on the waterways in the state of Florida can be dangerous, as reflected by the fact that Florida is one of the leading states for boating accidents and boating deaths.