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How Many People Get Lost at Sea in Florida?

November 17, 2023
Boat Accident

The Stark Reality of Souls That Disappear Off the Coast of Florida 

Recently, headlines have been filled with stories of people being lost at sea in Florida waters. The boaters disappear during both calm and turbulent waters only to never be sighted again. More often than not, their boats are found intact, but their bodies are never recovered. Many times, it can only be speculated about what went wrong and whether their disappearance was preventable.

Two People Lost at Sea on Average Until 2016

According to The Palm Beach Post, there were two people lost at sea on average in Florida each year. People like 14-year-olds Austin Stephanos and Perry Cohen, who went missing during a storm on July 24, 2016. The teens were last seen in their 19-ft single-engine vessel near Jupiter, F, fueling up for a day on the water. An in-depth search recovered their capsized boat, but the boys were never found, as reported by People

The boys, along with 17 others, had disappeared under the water over the preceding decade off Florida waters. On average, two people had been lost at sea each year. Most of the vessels were larger than the 19-ft one driven by the teen boys in 2016. 

More Being Lost at Sea Than Ever Before

Today, the number of those lost at sea off the coast of Florida has risen drastically. Early last year, the United States Coast Guard had to call off the search for 34 people who were thrown into the water when their boat capsized. Reuters reported that the boat was suspected of smuggling migrants into the country from the Bahamas. 

Only four bodies were ultimately recovered from the waters. One person survived by clinging to the hull of the boat. The survivor explained that none of the estimated 40 people onboard were wearing a life jacket. 

The story is not unusual. In 2021, two nearly simultaneous incidents involved 16 people lost at sea. One boat was carrying seven people from the Bahamas, another makeshift vessel had ten people allegedly coming from Cuba. The boats were recovered, but the bodies were not. As with most lost at sea, the cause of the accidents remains unknown. 

Ways to Prevent Lost at Sea Accidents

It is believed that many lost-at-sea accidents involve some sort of inclement weather or turbulent waters. High winds catch boaters by surprise, capsizing their once steady vessel. Even for experienced captains, rough seas can be difficult to navigate. There are ways, however, to help prevent lost at sea accidents. 

Ways to prevent lost at sea incidents:

  • Always wear a life jacket
  • Have a working GPS
  • Carry flares and other safety equipment
  • Ensure your radio is working properly
  • Perform regular maintenance on your vessel
  • Take a boater safety class

If you are involved in a boating accident, it is worth speaking to an attorney to determine your legal options. If you rented a boat or were on a charter, you might be entitled to compensation for your injuries or the loss of your loved one.

Contact Our Office to Learn More

At Mase Seitz Briggs, we represent individuals who have been harmed in boating accidents throughout Miami and South Florida. Our lawyers will help you understand your rights and work to ensure you receive the compensation you deserve after an accident. Contact our office today at (844) 627-3529 to schedule a free, no-obligation case evaluation.

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