Boating Accident Safety and Prevention
Nearly seven years ago, 24-year-old José Fernández was killed in a boating accident that rocked South Florida. The star pitcher for the Miami Marlins had just announced he would be a father and was already a two-time All-Star. The fatal accident also resulted in the death of two other young men. The devastating boat crash serves as a vital reminder of how dangerous the waters can be and the importance of boating safety.
Common Causes of Boating Accidents
Boating accidents can be caused by one or more factors. In the case of José Fernández, it is believed that speeding was one of the primary causes. Fernández, who reportedly died upon impact, was alleged to have been driving the boat at the time of the accident, but it remains unconfirmed. Fernández was, however, found to be under the influence of alcohol and had cocaine in his system.
Leading causes of boating accidents:
- Driving at an unsafe speed
- Boating under the influence of alcohol or drugs
- Operator inexperience
- Improper lookout
- Inclement weather conditions
- Equipment malfunction
- Careless or negligent operation
When and where you choose to boat may also impact your risk of getting into a collision. Boating at night, for instance, is inherently more dangerous compared to operating a vessel during the daytime. The accident involving Fernández reportedly happened in the early morning hours of September 25, 2016.
Preventing Boat Crashes
While there are multiple things that an individual can do to prevent boating accidents, there are also steps that government agencies can take to help make coastal waters safer. The boating collision that took the life of Fernández and two other men occurred when their 32-ft vessel struck a dimly lit jetty off the coast of Miami.
An investigation into the crash indicates that the impact caused all three men to be ejected. The boat is believed to have been traveling at a speed of 65 miles per hour when it struck the Government Cut jetty. It was noted that the jetty may have played a role in the accident.
According to the report released by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), impairment, speed, and operating a vessel in the dark with “known navigational hazards such as the rock jetties and channel markers” contributed to the deadly accident.
USCG Study on Jetty Lighting
Shortly after the accident, the United States Coast Guard completed a Waterways Analysis and Management System survey of jetties near Government Cut, including the one where the accident occurred.
The Coast Guard announced in a 2017 press release that the existing aids were sufficient and would not be improved. The navigation aids included “color-coded lighted buoys and lighted range markers.” It is unclear whether additional lighting would have prevented the accident that killed the ace pitcher, but many continue to call for additional safety measures.
Contact Our Office to Learn More
At Mase Seitz Briggs, we represent individuals who have been injured in boating accidents throughout South Florida. We are dedicated advocates who have been helping clients throughout Miami since 1997. Contact our office today at (844) 627-3529 to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.