The Kootenai County Sheriff’s Office has recommended that the County Prosecutor press charges in a boat crash that killed three people on Lake Coeur d’Alene last July. That news follows a months-long investigation into the accident, details of which are still not clear. A boat traveling south on the lake crashed into another that was stopped at the time. It was reported that there were no signs of drugs or alcohol found on the southbound boat.
The Sheriff’s Office did not give complete information because the case is still active, but it did announce that it has recommended that the Prosecutor’s Office consider “a variety of criminal charges.” Exactly what those charges might be and how many of the people on the boat—five were present—might be charged have yet to be revealed.
Shortly after the crash, it was reported that three of the passengers had initially lied to officers about who was driving the boat, which could be treated as a misdemeanor offense. It seems likely that more serious charges would also be involved, but no one has yet been charged.
This call for charges is making news now, in the middle of winter, which might seem like an odd time to raise the issue of boating safety. Proper investigations take time when serious matters are at stake, and they shouldn’t be rushed. Boating safety should be a serious matter all year round.
In 2015, the US Coast Guard counted more than 4,100 serious recreational boating accidents. In these accidents, more than 2,600 boaters were seriously injured and 626 died. Three-quarters of the deaths were by drowning, but the situations leading up to those deaths told an important story about the difference between safe boaters and unsafe boaters.
Not only were 85 percent of the drowning victims not wearing life jackets, but more than 70 percent of boat operators in fatal accidents had not had proper boat safety training. Just as with motor vehicles on the roads, alcohol was a factor in many crashes. And while accidents can and do happen with all types of watercraft, motorboats—as in the fatal Lake Coeur d’Alene crash—are the type of boat most likely to be involved in an accident, accounting for nearly two-thirds.
We’ll be watching this case as it unfolds further to learn what charges if any will be brought and who will face them. The families of the victims have been restrained in their search for justice, waiting for the authorities to complete their investigation and hoping for answers to what happened that night as much as for a prosecution. It’s our hope that they’ll be satisfied with the outcome.
When you or someone close to you has been harmed in a boating accident, it’s critical that you work with an experienced team who can help you get the compensation you are entitled to for the damages and injuries caused. At Craig Swapp & Associates, our attorneys understand boat accident law, and we’re ready to meet with you to discuss your case and how to proceed.
We offer all clients a free consultation, so there’s no risk involved in exploring your options. Give us a call at 1-800-404-9000 or contact us online through the form below to schedule an appointment today. You can also get answers to many of your questions right now by launching our LiveChat feature from any page of this website.