This summer, we saw a steady stream of reports about serious pleasure boat crashes in all of the areas where we practice: Utah, Idaho, and Washington. There were a number of much-covered incidents with injuries and fatalities, and now that the peak season has passed, we’re taking a more in-depth look at some of them.
While these crashes are in the past, we remind everyone that they shouldn’t let their guard down when it comes to boating and water safety. The summer is winding down, but we can expect recreational boaters to still be on our local lakes and rivers in large numbers for a while longer, especially when we have good weekend weather.
Safety should always be the guiding rule, but boat operators and passengers need to keep it in mind even more as the water becomes crowded. This week’s tragic news of baseball player Jose Fernandez’s death in a speed-boat crash makes this message all the more poignant.
Close to our Boise office, a nineteen-year-old man was killed on June 26 on Lucky Peak Lake in Gooseneck Bay. He was in a tube being towed by a ski boat when it veered too close to the rocky cliffs in that narrow part of the lake. He let go of the tube, hit the rocks, and was later transported to a medical center in Boise, where he died from a skull fracture.
Alcohol was ruled out as a factor, but speed might have contributed. Ada County sheriff’s deputies noted that accidents similar to this have happened in the past, although not to this severity, and cautioned boaters to stay at least one hundred feet away from all objects—including the cliffs—and to drive only at speeds where they have full control of their craft.
Not far from our Salt Lake City office, four people were seriously injured in the middle of July when their boat crashed into a rock wall at the popular Pineview Reservoir. The crash happened at night, and the boat was moving at high speed when it hit the wall. It was reported that Weber County law enforcement suspected that the driver of the boat might have been operating under the influence based on evidence collected at the scene of the crash.
Operating under the influence (OUI) is an all-too-common factor in boating accidents. The US Coast Guard, which collects data from many recreational boating accidents, found that in 2015, alcohol use was the leading contributing factor in fatal boating accidents, accounting for 17 percent of them.
In the most tragic nearby incident, three people died on Lake Coeur d’Alene, a popular destination not far from our Spokane office, when their boat was struck by another. Five occupants of the other boat were injured.
Details of exactly what happened in that late July crash are still being investigated. There have been suggestions that one boat was moving at high speed, or that another had no lights, but the only thing that seems undisputed is that the crash occurred in darkness, after 9:00 p.m. Boat operators should remember that, just as with cars, the risk of something going wrong increases after dark. Boaters should always have working lights, turn them on as darkness approaches, and exercise additional caution when it comes to both speed and navigation after sunset.
Craig Swapp & Associates has experience with many forms of transportation accidents, including those that involve cars, trucks, motorcycles, and even boats. If you’ve been the victim of this kind of accident, one of the first things you should do is get in touch with a law firm that understands what’s involved in getting you the compensation you deserve.
Give us a call today at 1-800-404-9000 or complete our contact form below to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case. You can also launch the LiveChat feature from any page of this website to have many of your questions answered immediately.