Articles Posted in Boating Accident

The Pasco County Sheriff’s Office saved five men who were stranded in the Gulf of Mexico after their boat capsized Saturday. 

None of the men suffered any injuries. 

According to reports, the group of men were about 15 miles off the shore when they called for help. 

The U.S. Coast Guard also helped with the rescue.

The good news is that all the men were wearing their life jackets, which is a great reminder to everyone how important it is to be safe when on the water. 

According to the Coast Guard’s 2019 Recreational Boating Statistics, there were a total of 4,168 boat crashes that resulted in 613 deaths. In this same year, another 2,559 injuries were reported as well as a whopping $55 million in property damage all due to recreational boating accidents. The Coast Guard also found that 79% of recreational boating deaths involved victims who drowned. Furthermore, 86% of fatal drowning victims were not wearing a life jacket. 

Nothing beats a hot sunny day on the water, and Pasco County is a great area for year-long boating activities. However, just one tiny slip up and a fun-filled day can turn into a nightmare in a matter of seconds. Anytime you head out on the water you want to be as prepared as possible. Our Pasco County Boating Accident Lawyers at Whittel & Melton want to remind you of the following safety tips. 

Boat safety starts before you even get on the water. You want to make sure your vessel is in good working condition before taking it out. This means you need to regularly inspect your boat for properly working steering, throttle, fuel and battery lines, and all switches and cables. If you have not taken your boat out in a while, you want to properly inspect it and be thorough before you get it on the water. 

Life jackets are a must for every single passenger. Every person on your watercraft needs to wear a life jacket. This is a non negotiable, as having one on can save your life, as this article shows. You want the life jackets to be kept in places that are easily accessible. You also need to inspect them often to make sure they are not ripped, torn, or otherwise defective. You also want to be aware of the laws regarding life jackets in Florida. For children under the age of 6: They must wear a USCG-approved life jacket while on boats that are under 26 feet in length on Florida waterways. Everyone on board a personal watercraft or being towed by a PWC must also wear a USCG-approved life jacket at all times. 

Pay attention to the weather and prepare yourself accordingly. A severe thunderstorm can quickly turn a nice day into a dangerous one. If severe warning is on the radar, consider taking your boat out another day. Once dark clouds are hanging over your vessel, it is usually too late to get back to shore safely. 

Do not drink and operate a boat. Just like driving a car, drinking while boating is dangerous and can prevent you from being able to operate a vessel safely. Likewise, drinking large amounts of alcohol can hinder your balance, and that combined with a rocky boat can easily lead to passengers falling overboard. 

Keep an eye on your boat’s weight. An overloaded boat can lead to a capsized boat. Your boat weight needs to be evenly distributed. You want to secure your anchor to the front of the boat (the bow). When the boat is moving at fast speeds, remind passengers to stay seated so that they can avoid falling overboard. 

Follow appropriate traffic guidelines. Be advised that larger boats like fishing boats, sailboats, etc. have the right away. It is best to stay to the right when approaching another vessel. You always want to yield to the boat that is on the right. 

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With summer approaching, National Safe Boating Week is here to encourage everyone to familiarize themselves with the best practices for a safe boating experience.

The 7-day period before Memorial Day weekend is “National Safe Boating Week,” and runs from May 18 through May 24, 2019.

In 2017, the Coast Guard recorded 4,291 recreational boating accidents that contributed to 658 fatalities and roughly $46 million in losses. Drowning is the leading cause of death in 76 percent of boating fatalities, and about 85% of those victims were not wearing a life jacket. Life jackets are designed to keep you afloat following an accident and save thousands of lives every year.

Here is a breakdown of Florida life jacket laws:

  • All recreational vessels must have at least one personal flotation device (PFD) that is U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) approved and of the proper size for each person on boat
  • Vessels 16 feet or longer must have one “throwable” Type IV PFD which is USCG approved and immediately available
  • Children under six years old must wear a USCG approved life jacket at all times on any vessel less than 26 feet in length that is underway in Florida waters
  • Children under 13 years of age on vessels operating on waters outside the geographical boundaries of Florida must wear a USCG approved PFD unless the child is below deck or in an enclosed cabin
  • Each person on a personal watercraft (PWC), such as a Waverunner or Jet Ski, must wear a USCG approved life jacket

The following are a few boating safety tips our Pasco County Boating Accident Injury Attorneys at Whittel & Melton have compiled:

  1. Wear a life jacket that is certified by the U.S. Coast Guard. We encourage you to check life jackets here:
  2. Know local and state boating laws
  3. Consider taking a Florida Boating Safety Course before getting out on the water
  4. Make sure your vessel is properly prepared before heading out on an excursion
  5. Schedule a Vessel Safety Check with the U.S. Coast guard
  6. Prepare a U.S. Coast Guard Float Plan. You can check that out here:
  7. Always have a communication device ready
  8. Do not drink and operate a boat
  9. Follow all navigation rules

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A cable failure on board the Island Lady led the shuttle boat to crash into Tropical Breeze Casino’s dock and building back in October, according to a U.S. Coast Guard damage survey.

The report states that on Oct. 22, the cable going from the boat’s micro command box to the transmission failed. The crew couldn’t disengage the starboard engine.

Damage to the boat is described as “minimal” — minor scratches on the bow.

When the coast guard took a look at the boat the next day, a visual inspection of the hull was conducted and tests involving the engines were performed. The report noted these tests were satisfactory, as was a visual inspection of a new cable.

Damage to the building, meanwhile, was described as “catastrophic.”

A city site inspection report notes that plans have been submitted to repair the dock and the building.

Fifty passengers were forced to jump from the Island Lady into the gulf last month when the boat became engulfed in flames. One woman later died.

Spokespeople for both Tropical Breeze Casino and the U.S. Coast Guard declined to comment on the report because of the ongoing investigation into that fire.

There’s no information that suggests the October crash is connected to the January fire.

When a boating accident occurs due to another person’s negligence, any victims may have the legal right to file a lawsuit and obtain financial compensation for any damages and injuries. Our Pasco County Boating Accident Attorneys at Whittel & Melton can help you understand what steps to take next. We are dedicated to helping injury victims receive full and fair compensation for their injury claims.

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This Fourth of July weekend, many people will be traveling, enjoying fireworks or just firing up the backyard grill. At Whittel & Melton, our Pasco County Injury Lawyers want to wish everyone a safe and happy holiday. We urge you to have fun, but also make sure safety is a top priority.

The American Red Cross offers a series of steps everyone can follow to safely enjoy the holiday weekend.


There will be millions of people on the highways over the Fourth of July weekend. Follow these 6 steps to stay safe while traveling:

  • Buckle seat belts.
  • Observe Speed Limits.
  • Do Not Drink and Drive.
  • Pay Attention to the Road. Avoid using a cell phone to call or text.
  • Use Caution in Work Zones.
  • Stay Alert at Night. Clean the vehicle’s lights and windows to help the driver see,  and turn the headlights on as dusk approaches as well as during inclement weather.


4428561177_831c2f9269_zThe best way to enjoy fireworks is to attend a public fireworks display put on by professionals. However, if you are going to partake in your own fireworks show at home, follow these safety steps:

  • Never Give Fireworks to Small Children.
  • Always Follow the Instructions on the Packaging.
  • Keep a Supply of Water Nearby.
  • Anyone Lighting Fireworks Should Wear Eye Protection.
  • Light only One Firework at a Time and Never Try to Relight “A Dud.”
  • Never Throw or Point a Firework at People, Animals, Vehicles, Structures or Flammable Materials.


Each and every year during the Fourth of July holiday, people are injured while using charcoal or gas grills. Here are several steps to safely cook up lunch or dinner for your backyard barbecue:

  • Always Supervise a Grill when in Use.
  • Never Grill Indoors.
  • Keep Children and Pets Away from the Grill.
  • Keep the Grill Away from the House, the Deck, Tree Branches, or Anything that Could Catch Fire.

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Even though the weather in Florida does not show it, summer is coming to an end. This Monday is Labor Day, and families and friends across the country will be gathering together over the long weekend to say goodbye to summer. Most people think of Labor Day weekend as their last chance to take a vacation, visit the beach or even just grill outdoors. The following safety tips can ensure that you have safe and fun Labor Day holiday.

Road Trip Safety Tips

  • Always have an emergency kit in your vehicle that contains flashlights, extra batteries, jumper cables, bottled water, a tool kit and a knife.
  • Tell someone who is not travelling with you about your travel arrangements. That way someone knows where you’re going, how long you will be away and what time you will be back.
  • Fasten your seatbelt! Make sure everyone in the car properly fastens their seat belts, and small children remain in their appropriate car seats.
  • Never drink and drive. Figure out a safe alternative home before you go anywhere.

Swimming Safety Tips

  • Check the weather and stay away from water during a lightning storm.
  • Don’t swim alone. Children should always be supervised by an adult when playing in or around water.
  • Emergency floatation devices should always be readily available. If taking your boat out, you should have enough life jackets for everyone on board.
  • Refrain from consuming alcohol while boating. You can be arrested for driving a boat while under the influence of alcohol.

7525573720_957c2abe23_mGrilling Safety Tips

  • Make sure your grill is set up in a safe location, away from houses, trees and any other flammable objects.
  • Keep children and pets away from the grill.
  • Do not add charcoal starter fluid after you have already ignited the coals.
  • Wear gloves when grilling foods to prevent burns and always handle food in a safe manner.

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A Land O ‘Lakes man is facing criminal charges after deputies claim he was drunk during a Labor Day weekend boating accident that wound up killing his brother.

The 31-year-old man was arrested Wednesday morning on charges of BUI (boating under the influence) manslaughter.

The Pasco County Sheriff’s Office alleges the man was driving a boat shortly before midnight on Sept. 1 on the Cotee River accompanied by two passengers, a woman and his 29-year-old brother.


Land O’Lakes man charged with BUI in Labor Day crash that killed his brother.

The woman told deputies that there was a crash and that she blacked out. Investigators later determined the 22-foot Boston Whaler smashed into channel marker 10A.

The woman told police that when she awoke, the accused was in the water attempting to pull his 29-year-old brother to safety. The man was brought to shore, but emergency personnel declared him dead. The Medical Examiner later concluded that he died from blunt trauma.

According to investigators, they conducted a blood draw on the accused shortly before 3 a.m. and that the results indicated his blood alcohol content was 0.093. In the state of Florida, intoxication is presumed at 0.08.

The accused was booked into the Pasco County Jail where he was released on $10,000 bond.

Driving a boat is a lot different that operating a car due to the fact that on the waterways, boats can approach from virtually any direction. Within the last five years, the number of registered boats in Florida has increased substantially. Due to this rise, there has been a surge of serious accidents on the waterways resulting in personal injuries and death. If someone was operating a boat in a careless or reckless fashion, or boating under the influence in New Port Richey, Port Richey, Dade City, Hudson, Holiday, Zephyrhills, Trinity, Land O’Lakes or Wesley Chapel, and this negligence resulted in serious injuries to you or the death of a loved one, you must enlist the help of a Pasco County Boating Accident Attorney at Whittel & Melton right away. We can immediately begin protecting your rights so that you can collect maximum financial compensation for all expenses related to the accident.

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A 29-year-old Land O’Lakes man died in the early morning hours on Sept. 2 in a boat accident in New Port Richey.

The Pasco County Sheriff’s Offices believe the boat he was riding in hit a marker behind a home in New Port Richey.

He passed away at the scene at 4543 Harborpointe Drive shortly after midnight.

The driver of the 22-foot Boston Whaler has yet to be identified.

Investigators are currently looking into whether or not alcohol played a factor in the crash.

Boating accidents can be devastating especially since many boats are not equipped with seatbelts and the fact that there is always a risk for drowning and often delays obtaining rescue help in the event of an emergency. When harm is suffered, recovering compensation for losses can be extremely complicated. That is why you need the help of a Pasco County Boating Accident Attorney at Whittel & Melton who understands just how to handle these types of cases.

boston whaler.jpgAlcohol and recreational boating are two things that are often mixed. While passengers on boats may enjoy alcoholic beverages, the boat operator should not. The person operating the vessel has a duty to keep passengers safe. When the operator elects to navigate the boat under the influence of alcohol and causes a recreational boating accident that leads to serious injury or death to passengers, he or she should be held accountable for behaving recklessly.

At Whittel & Melton, we can help all injury victims or families of those killed in accidents involving fishing boats, powerboats, pontoons, sailboats and other watercrafts, including:

• Collisions between two boats
• Boat and jet ski crashes
• Accidents with stationary objects such as docks or peers
• Swimmers struck by boats

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