Articles Posted in Boating & Watercraft Accidents

One woman has been killed and a man and a woman were taken to Harborview Medical Center in serious condition after a Lake Washington boating accident in which a powerboat struck a sailboat around 10:30pm.

In what might be a case of boating under the influence, a 46-year-old Renton man, is being investigated for Boating Under the Influence (BUI) and homicide by watercraft after the fatal boating accident. Seattle police believe alcohol was involved.

The accident occurred off of Leschi.

There were seven people on the sailboat and three of them landed in the water during the accident, according to the Seattle P-I. A young woman in her mid-20’s died at the accident scene; she may have been pinned between the two boats. The other victims, a man in his early 40’s and a woman in her early 30’s, reportedly suffered lacerations and fractures.

Of the four people on the power boat, one was reported to have minor injuries.

Operating a boat after dark and under the influence of alcohol makes for a dangerous situation for all boaters.

Washington State Navigation Rules

The Boat Washington Course provides that when a powerboat meets up with a sailboat head-on, the power boat must give way. In a crossing situation, when a powerboat meets a sailboat, the powerboat must also give way.

This accident reminds one of another fatal boating accident on Lake Washington. In 2008, a 37-year-old Bellevue School District teacher was killed in a boating accident when the sailboat she was riding in was struck by a powerboat that was speeding at the time.

This information was brought to you by Washington Injury Attorney blog, a service of The Farber Law Group. Serving the greater Seattle area, we have more than 30 years experience representing boating accident victims.

If you or a loved one has been seriously injured in a boating accident, contact us for a free case consultation.
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We just read a very tragic story in the Seattle Times about two Whidbey Island active navy men who drowned this weekend while kayaking. The cause of death for both men was accidental saltwater drowning with hypothermia.

According to the report, both men were wearing life vests. The men, however, were not dressed for being in the cold water, as both were said to be wearing jeans.

We suspect that neither of the men may have been familiar with kayaking and swimming in the waters of the Puget Sound and the dangers of cold water and strong tides. Although the air temperature can be in the 70’s and the sun shining, the water temperature is still very cold with temperatures in the low 50’s.

Boating Accidents in Cold Water

Have you ever read about a person who fell off a dock or drowned in relatively shallow water? These drowning deaths almost seem incomprehensible. One wonders why the victim couldn’t save themselves? The reason is often the cold shock/gasp reflex.

Cold-water immersion, is the leading cause of death in many boating accidents. When a person falls into cold water, the following things can happen:

  1. Cold shock – The cold water can cause someone to gasp and involuntarily inhale the cold water into their lungs. A person can drown in less than 1/2 cup of water in the lungs and it can occur very quickly.
  2. Swimming failure – The victim loses the dexterity, is unable to match breathing to swimming stroke, loses coordination and has trouble keeping their head above water.
  3. Hypothermia – A condition in which the body’s temperature drops below 95 degrees. Hypothermia can set in just a few short minutes if the water is cold. In the Puget Sound with water temperatures around 50 degrees, an adult can become hypothermic in under 12 minutes depending on the person’s size.

    Washington Boating Accident Lawyer

    This information is provided by Washington Injury Attorney blog, a service of The Farber Law Group. We represent people who have been seriously injured in Washington boating accidents and the family of those who have been killed.

    Contact The Farber Law Group at 1-800-244-9087 or attorney@hgfarber.com to schedule a free and confidential case evaluation. Our Bellevue office is here to assist you.
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boating2.jpgThe opening of boating season is just around the corner with Opening Day on May 3rd, 2014.

The U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary is offering boating safety classes at Bellevue Fire Station No. 9 which is located on 12412 SE 69th Way in Newcastle. Classes are held from 8:30am to 5pm on April 26, May 24 or June 28.

Those attending the classes will be able to obtain their Washington Boaters card which is required of boaters between the ages of 12 and 60 who operate a boat with 15 or more horsepower.

Boaters operating power boats in Washington state should be knowledgeable about of boating legal requirements including:

  • How to register and identify a boat.
  • Age requirements and restrictions.
  • Negligent and reckless boat operation.
  • Boating under the influence, alcohol and drugs
  • Safety around other boats and homeland security restrictions.
  • Personal flotation devices and life jackets
  • Fire extinguishers.
  • Ventilation systems and engine requirements.
  • Navigating after dark.
  • Personal water craft.
  • Water skiing and intertubing.
  • Safety regulations including diver-down and skier-down flags.
  • Boating accidents — what the law requires you to do.
  • Protecting the environment.
  • Trash, oil and waste disposal.

To register or for information, contact Terrence Hooper at 425-885-0259 or email at HoopCGAUX@gmail.com. Email is preferred
This information is provided by Washington boating accident attorneys at The Farber Law Group. We represent people who have been seriously injured in boating accidents caused by the negligent use of a boat.

Contact The Farber Law Group at 1-800-244-9087 or attorney@hgfarber.com to schedule a free and confidential case evaluation. Our Bellevue office is here to assist you.
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Today we read with great sadness about a 17-year-old boy who drowned, with friends watching, at Deep lake at Nolte State Park near Enumclaw. It is unbearable to imagine the grief of the family. The thought of these teenagers having a great time on a warm summer afternoon to have it end in tragedy causes great sadness.

According to the article in The Seattle Times, “..the boy, who was with a church group from Yakima, looked like he needed help, but they thought he was joking. A friend called 911 when they realized he was drowning.”

According to the Red Cross, when teenagers drown, all too often witnesses say, “I thought he was fooling around.”

So, we thought it was time to remind our readers to be vigilant in the myriad of rivers and lakes in the Puget Sound region and take a minute to learn about what drowning looks like. Obviously, these teens did not have the proper training to know that their friend was in trouble before it was too late.

Unintentional Drowning — 5th Leading Cause of Accidental Death
Every day, 10 Americans die in an accidental drowning. Nearly 80% of drowning victims are males and 20% of those who drown are 14 and under. Drowning is the 5th leading cause of accidental death in the United States according to the Centers for Disease Control and prevention.

It is believed that the higher rate of death among teenage boys is caused by both peer pressure and going beyond one’s own limits. Teenagers often go out too far and for too long.

We all imagine that drowning encompasses violent thrashing and yells for help. This is aquatic fear but drowning is most often a QUIET event.

What Drowning Looks Like

  • Drowning people are not able to call for help.
  • Drowning people sink below the surface and reappear but in the brief time they are above water, they don’t have time to call for help.
  • Drowning people do not wave for help as, instinctively, their arms are leveraging their mouth above water.
  • Drowning people do not kick and can only remain above the surface for short periods of time.

Signs of drowning include:

  • mouth at water level
  • head tilted back
  • glassy or closed eyes
  • inability to use legs to kick
  • gasping for breath
  • attempting to swim or roll on the back
  • or, climbing motions.

In the Pacific Northwest, our waters tend to be very cold even when daytime air temperatures reach 80 degrees. Cold water immersion can induce a cold shock response and they can be incapacitated very quickly.

Swimming Safety

It is important that people learn to swim, swim with a buddy, swim in areas supervised by lifeguards. See the American Red Cross for more information.
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Just in time for SeaFair, the Washington State legislature has been toughening penalties for driving under the influence (DUI) and new laws were recently enacted. In May, Washington Governor Jay Inslee signed a bill which would increase the penalties for boating under the influence (BUI). The new law goes into effect on July 28th.

The law has been changed to increase the penalty for BUI to a gross misdemeanor. Those conflicted face a five of up to $5,000 and a year in jail. The previous penalty was a fine of up to $1,000 and jail time of up to 90 days.

The BUI law also finds provides that boat drivers, like vehicle drivers , fall under implied consent laws which requires boaters to submit to a blood, breath or urine testing if police suspect them of boating under the influence. Failing to submit to a test can result in an automatic suspension of a boating license and result in a $1,000 fine.

Alcohol a Factor in Many Boating Accidents

There are many causes or factors that influence boating accidents. The one factor that is absolutely avoidable is driving a boat while under the influence. In more than 30% of all reported boating accidents, boating under the influence was a factor. Alcohol slows a boat operator’s reflexes and can cause them to make poor decisions
Wrongful Death after a Boating Accident

If a person is seriously injured or if a person is killed as the result of a another person operating a boat while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, the person may be charged with a felony. In addition, the injured person, or the family of the deceased may bring a civil claim against the person to compensate them for their losses.
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boating accident lawyerWashington state is experience some of the warmest weather in the country. The beautiful weather and the fact that boating season has begun means that a lot of people are boating and enjoying the many bodies of water in our state. Even though Western Washington expects to read temperatures in the high 70s it is important to remember that the waters are still cold and cold water can kill.

Unfortunately, two people died in two separate incidents on Washington waters over the weekend. On the Stillaguamish River, a man died after his raft overturned. And on Spanaway Lake, a man is presumed drowned after his inner tube flipped and he came out of his life vest.

According to Seattle’s King5.com, there was also a water rescue off Ft. Worden State Park of a man and two girls.

When water is is under 50 degrees Fahrenheit, there are physiological responses that can happen if a body becomes immersed in the water.

Cold Water Shock

If a person lands in very cold water, they can go into shock. Their heart rate and blood pressure can go up resulting in a heart attack. Another thing that can happen is hyperventilation, or an involuntary gasp, which can cause a person to take on water.

Cold Incapacitation

Many boaters don’t wear life vests because they think they can swim. They are over estimating their capabilities because if they end up in very cold water, they can become incapacitated as their core temperatures drops and they can no longer controls their arms or legs enough to keep themselves above water.

Hypothermia

Hypothermia is a condition when the core body temperature drops below a level needed to sustain life. Hypothermia can occur when a person swims or falls into cold water. Signs of hypothermia can include shivering, blue skin, slow respiration, slurred speech, muscle stiffness and cardiac arrest.
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The Tacoma News Tribune reports that a Ryan Butler, a 32-year-old boat racer from Buckley, was killed on Saturday when he crashed his hydroplane during the Black Lake Regatta.

According to the report, he crashed his boat during a heat of racing on Saturday. The boat sank after the accident.

This boating accident occurred on the same day the Seafair pirates landed at Alki Beach as part of the kick off of Seattle’s Seafair Festival.

Hydroplane racing is the main attraction of the Seattle’s Seafair festival.

Hydroplane racing is a dangerous sport as the boats reach speeds of up to 200 MPH. Racing deaths used to be considered almost common place but safety features including safety vests, Kevlar cockpits and design improvements have improved operator safety. However, this is the second hydroplane fatality this year. The first accident occurred on Lake Lawrence in April.

This information is provided by Washington Injury Attorney blog, a service of The Farber Law Group. We represent people who have been seriously injured in boating and watercraft accidents and the family of those who have died.

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A Seattle woman, Kitzie Nicanor, was injured along with two other people as she sat on a Miami beach when she was hit by an ATV driven by an on-duty Miami police officer early Sunday morning.

Nicanor’s injuries were were not reported but her friend, Luis Almonte suffered a shattered femur in the accident. Nicanor and Almonter had been sitting on the beach waiting for sunrise when they were hit.

According to a report on PoliceOne.com, the officer, Derrick Kulian, was on-duty and reportedly had been drinking at a The Clevelander hotel bar prior to driving his ATV. Kulian was apparently joy riding with a female, Adelee Sharee Martin, that he had met at the bar and was driving with his lights out. Martin was thrown from the ATV in the accident and suffered minor injuries.

One witness told The Miami Herald that Officer Kulian fled the accident scene on foot.

The Miami Herald reports that Kulian, and a second police officer, Rolando Gutierrez, had both been drinking at the Clevelander Hotel. Both officers reportedly are being processed for termination.

This certainly seems like a scandal in the Miami police department. The police were charged with patrolling the beach due to a rash of thefts yet their reckless behavior resulted in the injury of citizens they were hired to protect.

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In an accident such as this one, the victims may have a strong civil suit not only against the officer but also against the Miami police department, especially if it is revealed that drinking on the job was condoned and that other officers attempted to cover for the offending officers.

This information is provided by Washington Injury Attorney blog, a service of The Farber Law Group. We represent people who have been seriously injured in motor vehicle accidents due to the negligence of another.
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The National Transportation Safety Board investigation found that a tugboat operator was distracted while using his personal cell phone and a company laptop computer when the tugboat he was navigating crashed into and sank a duck tour boat on the Delaware River. Two people on the duck tour boat were killed in the boating accident and 26 other people were injured.

A NTSB Press Release cited the mate’s distraction as the key factor in the accident. The release said the mate was busy dealing with a “family emergency” instead of being in the upper wheel house and that his visibility of the channel was limited.

NTSB Chariman Deobrah A.P. Hersman said”

“This is yet another example of the deadliness of distractions. “Distraction is a safety concern across all modes of transportation.  Regardless of the reason, it’s not okay to multi-task while operating a vehicle – whether it’s calling, texting, or surfing the web.”

The boating accident occurred when the tugboat, the Caribbean Sea, was towing a barge and hit the duck tour boat. The duck boats are old World War II era amphibious landing craft which are operated by Ride the Ducks International.

The NTSB release also faulted Ride The Ducks International, LLC, for failing to take proper action to address “the risk of anchoring in an active navigation channel.” The duck boat had overheated and the vessel was anchored in an active navigation channel at the time of the accident.

This boating accident is but one of many motor vehicle accidents caused by using a cell phone or other communications device while driving. The NTSB estimates that 6,000 people died in 2008 alone in accidents where distracted driving was a factor.

This information is provided by Washington Injury Attorney blog, a service of The Farber Law Group. We represent people who have been seriously injured in motor vehicle accidents caused by distracted driving.

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King County Executive seeks to require life jackets in rivers – Is this a good idea or an example of “nanny state”?

School bus driver caught on camera texting and driving
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King County Executive Dow Constantine has proposed a requirement for wearing personal flotation device (PFDs) on rivers in unincorporated King County. Under his proposal, swimmers, boaters and rafters could be fined $86 for failing to wear a Coast Guard approved PFD on a person’s second infraction.

Constantine would like the proposed ordinance be in effect throughout summer, a time when rivers in Western Washington are swift and cold due to heavy snowmelt and a turbulent flood season. The Snoqualmie, Tolt, Cedar, Green, White, Raging and Skykomish Rivers are the areas where the PFD ordinance would be enforced by the King County Sheriff.

Constantine believes that life vests are as

“essential for swimmers and boaters as helmets for cyclists and seat belts for drivers”

seattle boating accident lawyerConstantine is supported by the King County Sheriff’s office along with other public safety and health officials including the River Safety Council, the American Red Cross of King and Kitsap Counties; the Tulalip Tribes; the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission; Sector Puget Sound of the U.S. Coast Guard; the national non-profit American Whitewater organization of whitewater enthusiasts, river conservationists, and paddling clubs; and Mountain View Fire and Rescue in Auburn, whose Swift Water Rescue Team responds to incidents along the middle Green River.

There is urgency in getting this ordinance passed as the rivers are especially high and swift this year. Several floods in King County also reshaped river channels and created new hazards in the waters.

Why cold rivers are dangerous

A person can quickly drown in a cold swift river. When the water is less than 70 Degrees Fahrenheit, a swimmer or boater’s chance of surviving a fall into the water is greatly reduced. The reason is that falling into cold weather can cause panic and shock. Shock is a life-threatening medical condition that affects a person’s circulatory system and can cause cardiac arrest even in the young.

Often when a person falls into cold weather, their first reaction is an involuntary breath in which they might inhale water, not air.

Shock can also cause disorientation which finds a person thrashing around and the cold water can numb a person’s arms and legs so they are useless. Pain then sets in and then hypothermia – a condition where the core body temperature drops below the required level for bodily functions – and a person’s pulse and respiration rates decreases and major organs fails. In situations where a person has been drinking alcohol, hypothermia sets in even quicker.
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