Intoxicated Boat Operator Causes Fatal Accident

John Lomicky

Written by John Lomicky

- Updated on February 7, 2019

This case involves a group of individuals who were injured while boating at night. Allegedly, the individual who was operating the vessel was intoxicated and crashed it into a breakwater that was not lit. Two passengers were thrown from the boat into the breakwater. One drowned and the other individual was severely injured. An expert in boating safety and operations was sought to discuss boating safety protocols or procedures to prevent incidents of this type.

Question(s) For Expert Witness

1. What safety protocols or procedures exist to prevent incidents like this from occurring?

Expert Witness Response E-372081

inline imageThere are numerous safety protocols that exist to prevent incidents such as this from occurring. There are many factors relative to the captain of the boat that should be taken into account such as their qualifications, their skills as a boater, their ability to pilot the boat, the working condition of the vessel, and what the captain was trying to accomplish in terms of the mission prior to the incident. With regard to operating a vessel while intoxicated, there are DWI state and federal laws that must be followed. Ultimately, the captain (or driver) of the boat is held responsible for all individuals aboard. Commercial captains have different laws that are applicable to them. With regard to the breakwater being lit, it is the responsibility of the driver of the boat to know where they are going and what dock they are entering. There are charts that will show you the breakwater locations. If you do not pay attention or use the charts, then it is considered negligence if an accident occurs under your watch. I am familiar with breakwaters, levee systems, and dikes. I was also a whitewater canoeist which involved reading water currents and eddies. I also have experience in tactical boat operations, basic boating, navigation, and search and rescue operations.

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