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Texas Man Killed In Choctawhatchee Boating Accident

Image courtesy of Daily NewsAnthony J. Jarab, 24, resident of Niceville, Texas died early Wednesday when the boat he was a passenger of crashed into a channel marker in Choctawhatchee Bay in Okaloosa County, Florida.  Per a preliminary report from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the vessel involved in the accident was a 22-foot Mako center console fishing boat that was being operated by Jackie C. Mott, 34, of Valparaiso.  Two other women were also on the boat, Madison R. William, 18 of Niceville, Texas and Amber Doolan, 32 of Dripping Springs, Texas.

At approximately 12:36 A.M. the boat was heading into Choctawhatchee Bay when Mott started to accelerate.  Per the report, she yelled at the two occupants seated on the bow to come off the bow and shortly after that the vessel struck a large channel marker.  Jarab was one of the individuals seated on bow and due to the impact he was thrown onto the deck near the center console. Jarab and the two injured women were transferred by emergency personnel to Fort Walton Beach Medical Center.  The two women were treated and released.  Jarab, however, died from his injuries at the medical center.  We extend Jarab’s family and loved ones our deepest sympathies.

This accident is the second fatal boating accident in Choctawhatchee Bay this year. In June, Sarah Flanagan, 19, a Texas A&M chemical engineering student was killed in a boating accident when the personal watercraft she was operating collided with a 30-foot Grady-White boat.

According to the 2016 Boating Accidents Statistical Report of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, there were 714 reportable boating accidents and 67 boating related fatalities in the calendar year.  Per the statistics, middle-age or older males with boating experience but who have never taken a boating safety course are the boat operators most likely to be involved in a boating accident. Still, Florida’s current boating safety education law only applies to boaters born on or after January 1, 1988.

Liability for boat collisions is usually due to violation of safety or navigational rules and failure to follow recognized customs and uses in the area. The law punishes those who fail to follow and obey regulations by presuming them at fault. To rebut such presumption, the violator must prove that the violation “could not have contributed in the slightest degree to the accident” — something rarely accomplished.

A person injured due to a boat or yacht collision is entitled to damages including payment of medical bills, lost wages, loss of the enjoyment of life, as well as, pain and suffering. Damages for wrongful deaths arising from a collision depend upon the location of the death–whether in inland waters or within or beyond 3 nautical miles , and on the person’s “status” aboard the vessel (e.g., crewmember, passenger or guest).  Federal law requires that personal injury and death claims resulting from a collision on navigable waters be filed within three (3) years from the date of the accident.

Maritime law is a specialized body of law and hiring an experienced maritime attorney is crucial to your case.   The attorneys at the law firm of Brais Brais Rusak are Board Certified maritime experts with the experience to protect your rights, the compassion to serve your needs, and the skill to obtain the compensation you deserve.