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Autopilot Blamed for Boater Death

By April 25, 2014 October 14th, 2019 No Comments

For some in Louisiana and other parts of the U.S., going fishing is work, while for others it is relaxation. For one father and son duo, what started off as a pleasurable fishing trip turned into a tragic boating accident with lasting repercussions.

A 30-year-old man and his father were fishing in the San Francisco Bay on a 17-foot boat. Their vessel was hit by a much larger pleasure boat, which caused the fishing boat to capsize. The father was able to get hold of the hull and be rescued. However, the son got caught beneath the overturned vessel and drowned. The deceased man leaves behind a fiancée and their two children.

The 77-year-old operator of the cabin cruiser that hit them stated that he did not see them because he was below the deck at the time and running his vessel on autopilot. The U.S. Coast Guard ran an analysis that concluded there was sufficient time to see the smaller vessel and to yield to it. When two vessels are involved in a right of way situation, the operator of the bigger vessel is required to yield to the smaller one.

The pleasure boat operator was convicted by a jury of violating California navigation code and of misdemeanor manslaughter. The jail time for each is up to one year. This accident is not the first for the 77-year-old man. In 2005, he crashed the boat he was operating into a pier, causing a passenger to suffer serious injuries.

When injury or death occurs due to the negligence of others, victims and surviving family members can seek legal remedies in the pursuit of justice, especially in cases where the criminal sentence doled out to the offender does not seem a steep enough payment for the life that was taken. There may also be financial compensation available to help cover hospital, funeral and other related expenses stemming from an accident. A Louisiana attorney may be able to help you seek a form or financial retribution when a criminal sentence does not seem like justice was effectively served

Source: SFGate, “Boater convicted of manslaughter in S.F. Bay drowning,” Henry K. Lee, April 18, 2014

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