The Source for Maritime Legal Information

British Passenger Killed in Bus Crash Azure ship.jpgA British passenger traveling on board the P&O Cruises ship Azura was killed last Wednesday as a result of a collision involving a bus operated by a shore excursion provider in the island of Dominica. Nine other passengers of the twelve passengers traveling on the bus were also injured as a result of the accident. They were treated at local hospitals and most have been discharged since. The cause of the accident is not yet known.

The Azura ship set sail from Southampton on October 28, 2016 with more than 3,000 passengers on board.

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Boat Crash Black Creek Florida.jpgA woman was seriously injured when the Boston Whaler boat she was a passenger in hit an overhanging tree branch at approximately 30 mph while traveling around a bend in Black Creek, a 13-mile-long tributary of the St. Johns River in Clay County, Florida. Three other passengers of the boat also sustained injuries, one of them requiring hospitalization. The two passengers that were hospitalized were in the back of the boat at the time of the crash. According to the operator of the boat, Charles Spiegel, upon coming around the bend he encountered an overhanging tree branch and he “cut it hard and broadsided the tree branch.” Both passengers transported to the hospital were alert when they were being taken to Orange Park Medical Center. However, they were reportedly in a lot of pain. The Clay County Sheriff’s Department is assisting the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission in investigating this accident.

Black Creek is a winding creek known by locals as a difficult area to navigate with many sharp turns. In 2011, Black Creek was the site of a fatal boat crash that resulted in the death of two teenagers. Reportedly, the operator of the boat left control of the boat to pump the fuel bulb when the boat veered into the north bank and crashed into a tree three feet off the water. The operator of the boat and father of one of the deceased passengers was charged with reckless boating.

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Jose-Fernandez-boat-accident.jpgIt has been a month since Florida Marlins’ pitcher Jose Fernandez and his friends Eduardo Rivero and Emilio Macias lost their lives in a tragic boating accident in Miami Beach. Shortly after the tragedy, law enforcement reported the boat involved in the crash with the north jetty of Government Cut did not belong to Fernandez. It was later confirmed that Fernandez did, in fact, own the vessel. It has been also confirmed that hours before the accident, Fernandez was drinking at American Social, a Miami area restaurant and bar. A toxicology report recently released indicates that Fernandez had a blood alcohol level of 0.147 which is nearly twice Florida’s legal boating limit of 0.08. The same toxicology report concluded that he also cocaine in his system. Though Fernandez was legally intoxicated, it is now being suggested that he was not operating the boat at the time of the accident. This theory is based upon a witness telling law enforcement that he was on the phone with Fernandez near the time the boat struck the jetty.

Who is Responsible

Though this the accident occurred on a private boat mere yards from shore, a civil case concerning who is labile will be governed by maritime law. Maritime law is an amalgamation of decisional law dating back to ancient Greece supplemented, at times, by non-conflicting state law. From the facts known to date, there are four potential sources of liability: the boat owner, the boat operator, the alcohol server and the government.
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Four Injured in Boating Accident in Indian River Lagoon.jpgFour people were hospitalized late Thursday night after the boat they were traveling in struck a sand bar at channel marker 85 in the Indian River Lagoon around 11:20 p.m. One person was treated at Holmes Regional Medical Center in Melbourne, Florida. The other three individuals were treated at Sebastian river Medical Center in Sebastian, Florida. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is still investigating the cause of the crash. The identities and condition of the people involved have not been released. We will continue to monitor and update this story as more information is known.

Just last month, Florida Marlins superstar pitcher Jose Fernandez and two of his friends, Eddy Rivero and Emilio Macias died when the boat owned by Fernandez, crashed into a jetty sometime before 3:00 a.m. These accidents highlight the danger of boating after dark. Most boats are not equipped with headlights thus increasing the likelihood of crashing with a fixed object. Additionally, most channel markers and other navigational aids have no lighting attached. Boaters intending to travel at night are recommended to have their own lights, such as handheld marine-grade spotlights.

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Elizabeth City Coast Guard Medevacs Man off Norwegian Gem.jpgThe Coast Guard is reporting it medevaced a 43-year-old man Tuesday off the Norwegian Gem cruise ship 225 miles southwest of Bermuda. Air Station Elizabeth City watchstanders were notified at approximately 12:45 p.m. that a 76-year-old male passenger was reportedly suffering appendicitis . A C-130 airplane rescue crew and MH-60 helicopter rescue crew were dispatched from Coast Guard Air Station Elizabeth City arriving on scene at approximately 12:09 a.m. Tuesday morning.

The Coast Guard helicopter hoisted the man and his wife and transported them to Bermuda where local emergency personnel were awaiting to transfer him to a local hospital.

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Man Killed in Jet Ski Crash Captiva Island.jpgA 24-year-old man identified as Hector Santiago was killed on Monday night when the Jet Ski he was riding crashed into a piling, ripping off the handlebars and throwing him into the water. Rescue personnel searched for the man for 30 minutes before he was located. Unfortunately, by then, efforts to revive him were unsuccessful. The crash occurred near South Seas Island Resort; Florida Fish and Wildlife officers could not confirm whether Mr. Santiago and his girlfriend, whom he was vacationing with, were guests at the resort but did confirm that the Jet Ski was rented.

No information is yet known on where the man rented the Jet Ski from or at what time but pursuant to Florida law, a person may not operate a personal watercraft at any time between the hours from one-half hour after sunset to one-hour before sunrise. Based on the time the accident took place, it appears that the Jet Ski was rented in violation of Florida law.

Investigation into this accident is ongoing and we will continue to update this story as we learn more information. We extend our sympathies to Mr. Santiago’s family and loved ones.

A diver was severally injured when a charter fishing boat ran him over. The incident occurred off the White Street Fishing Pier in Key West last Saturday, October 8th. Witnesses stated that the injured diver, along with another man, were displaying the legally mandated divers-down flags when the charter boat struck him at a high rate of speed. It appears that a propeller from the boat nearly severed diver’s left foot. The captain of the fishing boat retrieved the injured diver from the water and reported the incident to law enforcement. The captain was directed to return to shore where Key West Fire Rescue responded. The injured diver was taken to an area hospital. There have been no reports on the victim’s condition at the time of this post.

Monroe County Sheriff’s Office investigate such incidents. Florida law requires all divers without boats display a red divers-down symbol with a horizontal white strip that is a minimum of 12 inches by 12 inches which could take the form of a flag of buoy.

Carnival Splendor Pool Near Drowning.jpgA 2-year-old boy has been hospitalized after nearly drowning aboard the Carnival Splendor. According to reports, Saturday around 3:00 p.m. while the ship was docked at Port Miami, the toddler’s mother lost sight of him briefly and minutes later found him in one of the ship’s pools. A passenger aboard the ship who is a paramedic rendered assistance and the child was taken to the ship’s infirmary. The toddler was then transferred by local emergency personnel to Jackson Memorial Hospital. The toddler was reportedly conscious and stable at the time of his transfer to the hospital. We sincerely wish the young child a speedy recovery and send our best to his family.

Just three months ago, we reported on the tragic death of an 8 year-old-boy aboard Royal Caribbean’s Anthem of the Seas. Still, cruise lines continue to refuse to provide lifeguards on their ships claiming they comply with all safety requirements by posting visible signs alerting passengers to the fact that a lifeguard is not on duty and that children under 12 must be accompanied by an adult at all times.

Carnival carries approximately 700,000 children a year aboard its ships. While failing to provide lifeguards to protect children, it advertises and promotes, unlimited all-inclusive beverage packages with its Cheers! Program. No doubt, parents must supervise their children but cruise lines should be required to protect the safety of their passengers by implementing simple safety measures such as lifeguards.

Coast-Guard-Rescue-Helicopter.jpgThe Coast Guard is reporting that it has medevaced an 84-year-old passenger from the Carnival Triumph cruise ship on Wednesday October 5th. The cruise ship sent a request to Coast Guard Sector New Orleans to medevac a passenger suffering heart attack-like symptoms.

A MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew from Coast Guard Air Station New Orleans, who hoisted the passenger while the ship was approximately 100 miles south of Southwest pass. The aircrew transported the passenger to Air Station New Orleans where a waiting ambulance took him to West Jefferson Medical Center. The man’s condition is unknown at this time.

Built in 1999, the Carnival Triumph can carry 3,143 passengers. The cruise ship is currently sailing scheduled routes from New Orleans. This makes the second time within 10 days the Coast Guard was called to medevac a passenger from the Carnival Triumph. The other case involved a 60-year-old female passenger.

Hurricane Matthew.jpgHurricane Matthew is causing multiple cruise ships including the Carnival Sensation, Carnival Splendor and Royal Caribbean’s Enchantment of the Seas and Majesty of the Seas to alter their itineraries as the storm travels Cuba and the Bahamas. Several cruise ships will avoid travel to the Bahamas and will instead head to Key West, Florida and Cozumel, Mexico.

According to reports, the storm made landfall in Haiti early this morning carrying winds of 145 mph causing devastating damage to the island. Hurricane Matthew is expected to pass over eastern Cuba and portions of the Bahamas later today then heading toward the US, dropping down to a category 3 with 120 mph winds.

The United States Coast Guard Captain for South Florida Ports has set port condition whiskey for Port Miami, Miami River Port Everglades, Port of Palm Beach, Port of Ft. Pierce and all other South Florida terminals and facilities due to the storm’s expected track near southwest Florida.