The president of a Rhode Island boating company has died from injuries sustained in a single-boat crash in the Florida Keys during the Florida Powerboat Club Key West Poker Run. The crash occurred last month near the Faro Blanco Resort and Yacht Club in Marathon, Florida, according to BoatingMag.com.
The publication reports the owner of Outerlimits Offshore Powerboats was on board the vessel with four other men, including the 52-year-old operator of the boat. Two of the others on board were treated at a nearby hospital with personal injuries after the crash, while the other two were not injured. The 63-year-old decedent is survived by his wife and six children, who range in age from 15 to 38.
Although racing powerboats could be deemed by some as an inherently dangerous activity (decedent himself was quoted in a 2009 Newsweek article, in which he referred to himself as an “adrenaline junkie”), this does not mean the operator of the boat was not responsible to use reasonable care. These boats cost approximately $500,000, travel more than 100-miles-per-hour and the driver and throttle man are required to wear five-point harnesses in an enclosed canopy.
Although the Florida Fish & Wildlife Commission is investigating the collision, it’s not immediately certain whether legal action will be taken. It’s likely a personal injury lawyer will want to know whether there was any release or waiver of liability signed by decedent prior to the race, as might be expected in a competition of this sort. This is not the typical boating accident in Florida, but it does underscore the potential danger that lurks in Florida’s waters.
FWC reports in its 2016 Boating Accidents Statistical Report that Florida leads the nation for the most boating accidents, with a total of 931,500 registered vessels and 714 reportable boating accidents. A reportable boating accident is one in which one of the following criteria is met:
- Someone dies.
- Someone disappears under circumstances indicating possible injury or death.
- Someone suffers a personal injury requiring medical treatment beyond first aid.
- There was at least $2,000 total in property damage, either to the vessel or other property.
- There was a total loss of the vessel.
Last year, there were 56 fatal boating accidents in Florida resulting in 67 deaths. The No. 1 cause of death in these cases was drowning. Alcohol and drug use are indicated in about one-fourth of all boating accidents.
Approximately 70 percent of the operators involved in fatal boat accidents had no formal boater education. Whether that was the case with this most recent tragedy in the Keys is unclear, but it does seem probable the operator was experienced, given his involvement in this difficult race.
While Monroe County (where the Keys are located) were ranked No. 1 for having the most boating accidents in the state last year, Lee County ranked No. 5, Collier County No. 7 and Charlotte County No. 10. In Lee County, most boats involved were cabin motorboats and open motorboats, though some did involve personal watercraft and sail boats. The primary type of accidents were collision with another vessel and collisions with a fixed object. The primary cause, overwhelmingly, was no proper look-out or inattention. All it takes is a split second when you’re on a boat, particularly if the boat is traveling fast.
If you have been injured or a loved one killed in a boating accident in Fort Myers, our injury attorneys can help you determine whether you have a valid claim for damages.
Call Associates and Bruce L. Scheiner, Attorneys for the Injured, at 1-800-646-1210.
Outerlimits President Joe Sgro Dies In Florida Keys Boat Accident, Nov. 20, 2017, By Charles Plueddeman, BoatingMag.com
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Boating Accident Lawsuit Verdict Affirmed, Though Punitive Damages Deemed Excessive, Oct. 24, 2017, Fort Myers Boating Accident Lawyer Blog