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Articles Posted in Kayak Injury Law

Jose-Fernandez-Boat-Accident.jpgFlorida Marlins’ pitcher Jose Fernandez is one of three people who died Sunday morning in a boating accident off Miami Beach. Miami-Dade Fire Rescue responded to a report of a 32-foot boat that crashed into the north jetty of the Government Cut inlet. Fire Rescue Chief, Todd Garofalo, stated that an “initial search [found] three victims – two on top of the water, one underneath the boat…” The identities of the other victims have not been released. Details on how the boat ended up on the jetty and who was the operator are unknown at this time. Government Cut is the main waterway connecting the Port of Miami to the Atlantic Ocean.

Fernandez, 24, was born in Cuba and emigrated to the United States with his family in 2008 after three prior unsuccessful defection attempts. At just 15 years of age, he was jailed for defection. According to news sources, Fernandez saved his mother from drowning on the journey to Mexico after leaving Cuba. Fernandez and his family settled in Tampa where he attended Alonso High School. He was a 2011 first-round draft pick of the Marlins and was selected to play in the National League All-Star game in his rookie season. Last week, Fernandez announced he and his girlfriend, Maria Arias were expecting a child. During today’s news conference the Marlins announced the couple was expecting a baby girl. We are saddened by the tragic loss of a stellar player and human being and offer our condolences to his family and the families of the two victims involved in this accident.

***UPDATE – Sept. 25, 2:30 p.m.***

David Lemonds.jpgThe Coast Guard is conducted an air and sea search for a kayak who has gone missing off Dania Beach, Florida. David Lemonds of South Carolina was last seen by local kayakers at 11:00 am Thursday (5/22/14) in his yellow 12′ kayak leaving from John U. Lloyd Park. His car was noticed in the park’s parking lot overnight. The Coast Guard was notified on Friday (5/23/14) of a possible missing kayaker given the long time the car was in the lot. Boat crews from Coast Guard Station Fort Lauderdale along with the Miami based Coast Guard Cutter William Flores were launched to search the area. A MH-65 Dolphin Helicopter crew and an HC-144 Ocean Sentry aircraft from Coast Guard Air Station Miami were also deployed to search the ocean from Dania Beach to Riviera Beach. Lemonds’ last known communication was with his wife Thursday morning. He is 5′ tall, 140lbs and was last seen wearing a black wetsuit. Any person with information is asked to call the Coast Guard Watchstanders at (305) 415-6800.

:: UPDATE ::

The body of David Lemons was found in the waters south of Ft. Lauderdale by fishermen. He was wearing a SCUBA tank and wetsuit. Broward County homicide detectives are currently investigating this tragedy. He was missing for three days.

Kayak Injury Lawyer.jpgThe popularity of kayaking, and kayak fishing, has exploded in Florida. I have been a kayak angler for over nine years and have seen the sport grow from a few anglers pocketed in particular geographic locations to a statewide phenomenon. A few years ago, information about ocean kayak rigging and techniques was only available through trial-and-error or a close-nit network of fishermen. Today there are multiple magazines dedicated to kayak fishing and fishing shows often showcase the sport. There even is a national kayak fishing tournament where several hundred anglers participate each year. Though avid kayakers find the sport both challenging and rewarding, it is not without additional risk. The biggest man-made danger comes from the interactions between motor boats and kayaks. This is especially so in Florida where there are more registered motor boats than any other state. These two types of vessel operators must live in harmony in order to avoid accidents, injuries and deaths.

I have been involved with some close calls with motor boats whose operators were either not paying attention to where they were going or ignorant of the navigational rules. The photograph appearing at the top right tells such a story. My friend and kayak angling teammate Robinson Rodriguez (pictured above) and I were fishing off Ft. Lauderdale, Florida when I noticed a commercial sport fishing boat coming straight at me. The captain was on the bridge talking on his cell phone paying attention to what was going on in back of his boat and not where he was going. Amazed at the sheer negligence of a professional charter boat captain, I sounded my air horn. The noise got the captain’s attention who immediately altered course. This was good for me but bad for Rob as the fifty plus foot craft was now heading right at him. The fishing boat notices Rob and again altered course missing his kayak by feet. The fishing lines the sportfish was trolling tangled with Rob’s line. The sportfish then started dragging Rob for several yards without so much as slowing down until the lines came free. This is just one near collision of many I have experienced and Florida kayakers have several other stories. We were lucky that day and could have been seriously injured or worse if there was a collision.

This article is intended to explain the proper interaction between motor boats and kayaks by discussing some of the more commonly violated navigation rules along with the civil liabilities should a collision occur.

Being an avid kayaker as well as a maritime attorney, I get asked time and again if Florida requires titling and registration of kayaks or canoes outfitted with electric motors. The answer is an emphatic YES!

Kayak and canoe manufactures have started selling models with built in electric motors. For example, Ocean Kayak recently launched the Torque which has a factory installed electric motor. There are also emerging businesses which sell aftermarket electric motors attachments for kayaks and canoes. The sellers of these products generally don’t tell you most states including Florida require these crafts to be titled and registered as motor vessels.

Motor Kayak.jpgFlorida Statutes § 328.03 and § 328.56 require the titling and registration of all motorized kayaks and canoes regardless of length. In addition to paying for the title and registration, Florida law requires motorized kayaks and canoes to display registration numbers and decals.