Was a Deadly Crash in the Indian River Lagoon a Case of Vessel Homicide or Dram Shop Liability?
One of the scariest moments in a parent’s life is when your child gets a driver’s license and can legally operate a potentially dangerous machine without your supervision. At least you can take comfort in the fact that the roads are much safer than they used to be. Laws against drunk driving have drastically reduced the number of car accidents resulting in fatalities and serious injuries, and raising the legal drinking age to 21 has also helped to prevent alcohol-related accidents. Although one still reads heartbreaking stories in the news about young people whose daring and inexperience led to catastrophic accidents, these incidents are less common than they would be without the laws regulating safety standards and prohibiting underage drinking. One such incident that has appeared in news headline in Florida over the last several years involves a 2017 boating accident that claimed the life of a 19-year-old man. The accident resulted in several legal actions, both civil and criminal. Regardless of your age, if you have suffered serious injuries in a boating accident, contact a South Florida boating accident attorney.
The Indian River Lagoon Incident and Its Legal Repercussions
On June 3, 2017, 19-year-old Jayson Clark of Vero Beach was driving a 17-foot boat in the Indian River Lagoon, with five of his friends as passengers. The teens had bought alcohol from several gas stations before setting sail on the lagoon. Shortly after they passed the Alma Lee Loy Bridge, the boat collided with a mile marker; the impact caused 19-year-old Chance Rivero to fall out of the boat and into the lagoon. He was transported to the Cleveland Clinic Indian River Hospital, where he was pronounced dead; his cause of death was blunt force trauma. Several of the other passengers were also injured. An investigation revealed that alcohol was a major factor in the crash.
Rivero’s family sued Clark for negligence; he had been operating the boat while drunk, and furthermore, the boat did not have proper lighting and was carrying more passengers than it could safely hold. They also filed dram shop liability lawsuits against two gas stations where the teens had bought alcohol prior to the fateful boat trip. More than two years after the accident, a criminal investigation resulted in an arrest warrant for Clark, for charges of vessel homicide. Clark turned himself in on the evening of January 2, 2020. The following morning, after a court hearing, he was released on a $15,000 bond. His arraignment is scheduled on February 7 and, according to the news source TC Palm, Clark said that he will enter a plea of not guilty. An attorney for Clark said that Rivero’s death was the result of a tragic accident, but that nothing that Clark did or failed to do constitutes a criminal act.
Contact an Attorney Today for Help
Contact Palm Beach County boating accident attorneys at Smith & Ball Injury Law for a consultation about a potential lawsuit arising from a boating accident in which you suffered serious injuries.