Four boaters on the water near Destin, Florida started the day looking forward to fun in the sun. The day ended in tragedy for the two couples —one married, one engaged — when the boat sped out of control, ejecting all four passengers.
Three of them were quickly pulled out of the water by people close by. But one of the men didn’t float to the surface and could not immediately be found. His body was recovered nearly three hours later. This unfortunate outcome could have been averted if the victim had been wearing a life jacket. According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the majority of boating fatalities are caused by carelessness. That includes the reckless driving that forced this boat out of control in the first place and the lack of life jackets once the boaters were sent into the water.
Keeping safe on a boat means keeping the following safety tips in mind:
- Watch the weather. If it looks like a storm is brewing, it is not a good time to go out.
- Think before doing. Think about what you’re doing before you do it. Reckless driving can cause just as much, or more, heartache in the water as on land.
- Have a designated skipper. Drunk driving is just as unlawful and dangerous in a boat as on land. If partying is your goal, be sure to bring along a designated driver committed to remaining sober to pilot your boat.
- Let someone on shore know your plans. If you get lost or your boat malfunctions, you are more likely to be found if someone on shore knows where to look for you. Boats are required to have functioning radios to call for help, but even a radio can fail.
- Use life vests and learn to swim. Wearing a life jacket may be the single most important thing you can do in case of an emergency that lands you in deep water. Learning how to swim is important. However, even the best swimmers can tire. All boat passengers are required to wear life jackets at all times while on a boat.
Of course, even with the best of plans, boating accidents do happen. If you or a loved one has been involved in a boating accident in Florida, you may be entitled to sue for monetary compensation when the injury is someone else’s fault. Your boat accident attorney can advise you as to whether you have a good case and how to proceed.