A Middleburg man convicted of reckless boating in connection with a boating accident that killed two teens has been sentenced to serve 18 days in jail, or time served since his arrest in February. The man pleaded no contest to the reckless boating charges and was facing up to one year in jail. He cried in court when his sentence was handed down and walked from the courtroom a free man after time served fulfilled sentencing requirements. He said that the crash had destroyed his life and is a cautionary tale for boaters everywhere as one of his victims was the man’s own son.
Last February the man, his son and a 15-year-old girl who was a friend of the son were boating on Black Creek when the boat crashed into a low-hanging tree branch. An investigation found that the man had walked away from the helm of his boat moments before the accident occurred. A spokesman with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said the three had been boating on the creek for hours when the man noticed something was wrong with the engine. The man told investigators that he had been having engine problems all day and he had gone to the stern of the boat to check the motor and pump the fuel bulb while the throttle was engaged. He pressed the bulb and pushed more fuel into the carburetor, racing the motor and causing the boat to shoot forward and hard to the right, causing it to strike the branch. The teens suffered fatal injuries to their heads, necks and chests.
There is no doubt that this is a tragedy, as are all boating accidents. However, the investigation found that the man made his living working on boats and thus, should have known better than to move away from his boat’s controls with the throttle engaged and move to the rear of the boat to pump fuel directly into the motor.
Each year, dozens of people are seriously injured and many killed in boating accidents in our state. Regrettably, most of the accidents are preventable and could be avoided if boat operators operate their watercraft is a safe and responsible manner. In most cases, boat operators were operating their craft under the influence of alcohol, disobeying posted speed limits or engaging in other negligent behavior when the accident occurred. If you need an experienced, aggressive Orlando personal injury attorney to help you seek damages against a negligent boat operator, call James O. Cunningham today at 888-425-2004 or 407-425-2000 to schedule a free consultation.
James O. Cunningham
Since 1977, personal injury lawyer James Cunningham has provided effective legal advocacy to people who are injured through the negligent actions of another person or entity throughout the Central Florida area. He fights to obtain recoveries for his clients’ physical and emotional pain and suffering and pursues his clients’ personal injury cases with a commitment to excellence and impeccable preparation.
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