In August, several dozen people enjoying a harbor cruise out of Boston got a scare when the ship they were on pulled into the dock at Long Wharf, next to the New England Aquarium. As it was making its final maneuvers, the vessel Regency, operated by Boston Harbor Cruises, experienced a mechanical problem that prevented it from controlling all of its engines. This left the ship still sailing forward as it reached the dock.
The Regency struck three other boats: the high-speed tour boat Codzilla, a whale-watching boat, and a water taxi, all of which were unoccupied at the time. Fortunately, no one was injured in the collision, and all passengers and crew were accounted for and able to leave the Regency immediately after the crash.
Millions of Americans enjoy themselves with recreational watercraft every year, taking to the ocean, rivers, lakes, and other waterways. Many of us recognize that those who work for a living on the water are often at risk of injury or death—in fact, commercial fishing has been consistently one of the most dangerous occupations in the country—but we don’t associate a fun day out sailing, fishing, or jet skiing as particularly hazardous. On the contrary, going on the water comes with its own hazards.
In 2015, more than 2,600 people were injured and 626 died in recreational boating accidents. On the positive side, according to the US Coast Guard, this was the third lowest number of deaths and the fewest injuries recorded since 1997.
The vast majority of these incidents occur on small craft, not commercially operated ships like the Regency. But injuries and fatalities can happen on larger vessels, too.
In 2003, a Staten Island ferry nearly three times the size of the Regency and carrying around 1,500 passengers crashed into a pier in Manhattan. Tragically, eleven passengers were killed and seventy-one injured. An investigation showed that the pilot had lost consciousness from medication he was taking. In 2010, the same ferry hit a dock again, injuring thirty-seven. That accident was attributed to a mechanical failure.
Boston Harbor is as busy as any major transportation artery, and because of this, it sees its share of accidents. Some of the incidents in just the past few years include both a wedding party boat and a whale-watching cruise running aground (no injuries), a ferry colliding with another boat (one minor injury), a speedboat which broke apart and sank (one injured, one killed), a powerboat-sailboat collision (one killed), and the death of a Quincy court officer who fell from a boat and drowned in 2008.
Boating accidents often involve additional factors. A case last year, which also unfolded in Boston Harbor, included both operating under the influence and destroying evidence. In that incident, a nineteen-year-old woman lost her right arm above the elbow when the boat’s operators—allegedly intoxicated—backed the boat into her while she was in the water. One of the defendants in that case was reported to have deleted the contents of his cell phone when police detectives came to interview him.
Transportation cases come in all shapes and sizes. They also happen with all modes of transportation, including large boats and small watercraft. At Joel H. Schwartz, PC, our attorneys understand the many issues that can be involved.
Accidents on the water include unique factors, but they also involve many of the same elements as accidents on land, such as high speed, alcohol, and other impairment, and distracted operation. If you’ve been in a boating accident, you can arrange a free consultation today simply by completing our contact form below or by calling 1-800-660-2270 toll-free.