Boston Injury Lawyer Blog
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Articles Posted in Boating Accidents

With August in full swing, many recreational boaters are taking as much advantage of the remaining boating season as possible. The final weeks of summer recreation have increased potential for unfortunate accidents involving drinking and boating. The US Coast Guard’s Office of Auxiliary and Boating Safety reports alcohol use as the leading factor in boating fatalities in Massachusetts, despite persistent warnings from safety officials. Many boaters tend to dismiss the effects of sun, wind, heat, and motion in combination with even a minimum amount of alcohol consumption. The cultural perception of drinking while boating coincides with the concept of leisure, relaxation, and celebration. However, drinking and boating has been perceived by many law enforcement officials as more dangerous than drinking and driving.

Penalties for Boating Under the Influence

Massachusetts has some of the strictest penalties for boating under the influence (BUI) in the United States. Repercussions from “boozing and boating” are the same as those for receiving a DUI (driving under the influence). These penalties apply to the influence of other substances as well, including narcotics, stimulants, depressants, marijuana, or any combination of these. As with motor vehicles, the legal blood alcohol content (BAC) limit for operating a vessel is 0.08.

Legal consequences are dependent on factors like the defendant’s legal history and damages and injuries incurred due to the accident:

  • First time offense – If charged, the defendant may receive a maximum of one and a half years of prison time, or a maximum $1,000 fine, or both. Both motor vehicle and vessel licenses may be revoked for up to a year.
  • Second offense within six years – While the maximum fine remains at $1,000, maximum prison time increases to two and a half years.
  • Penalties increase with consecutive offenses and increased severity of injuries to others.

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A surge of boaters took to the Boston Harbor this weekend to relax and celebrate the beautiful weather. Unfortunately, celebrations turned to disaster when 19 year old Auburn resident, Nicole Berthiaume, fell overboard near Spectacle Island and was severely injured on Saturday night. A 33 year old Charlestown lawyer who specializes in DUI defense was charged with operating under the influence (OUI) when the Coast Guard responded to an emergency call from the “Naut Guilty” just before 8:00 p.m. that night. Benjamin Urbelis was placed under arrest by the Massachusetts Environmental Police.

According to Coast Guard Petty Officer Lanola Stone, the young woman’s “arm was severed just below the shoulder,” when she jumped off the anchored boat to retrieve a seat cushion. She sustained injuries to her face and abdomen as well. Fortunately, the Coast Guard response boat was nearby when the Mayday call came in. The Coast Guard and Boston Fire arrived quickly to the scene. Department Lieutenant Charlie Popp and the crew of the department’s firefighting and rescue boat raced toward Spectacle Island after the 911 call was placed. “We were very fortunate,” stated Popp. “It’s the first one I’m aware of recently with injuries this severe where everything worked out well.”

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A popular whale-watching boat escapade turned into a sea nightmare for many Boston tourists. On July 29th the Cetacea, an 83-foot-long whale-watching boat run by Boston Harbor Cruises, abruptly stopped about 13 miles off the Boston Long Wharf shore, when a 7-inch liquid natural gas cable wrapped around one of its propellers. Unable to be mobilized back to land, the tourists had to spend the night at sea on plain air, while diver teams detangled the cable.

Although no injuries were reported, around twenty of the 163 passengers became seasick during the 17-hour-long ordeal. They also had to endure a chilly Boston night, since the boat had only a limited number of blankets available, forcing some passengers to use trash bags as ponchos. The boat had also limited amounts of food, only chips and snacks, which the crew gave out to the passengers. It was not until hours later that the Coast Guard came to rescue with blankets and paramedics.

The Coast Guard and the boat captain determined it unsafe to transport passengers back to land on another vessel, since the ocean was too rough that night.

The limited resources on the boat and the lagging communication between the crew and the tour company made some passengers question the company’s boat safety regulations.

“I am legitimately concerned about the safety planning,” Passenger Stuart Raifman, 66, told the Boston Globe. “I don’t think there was a plan, and if there was one, I don’t think it worked very well.”
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A Hingham teenager suffered serious injuries after he was struck by a boat while tubing near the Hingham Yacht Club over Labor Day weekend.

According to investigators, the victim and two other teenagers, all 13-years-old, had been tubing in a designated tubing and waterskiing area between World’s End and the yacht club. The teens were being pulled by a 13-foot Boston Whaler motorboat, operated by a fourth 13-year-old Hingham resident.

file0001437114522.jpgOne of the three teens had apparently fallen off the tube after it passed over the wake, and as the driver went to pick the young man up, he drove toward the tube with two of the teens still on it. The boat struck one of the teens, and continued over him.

The teen was dragged back on board and brought immediately to Hingham Yacht Club where he was then transported to South Shore Hospital and admitted with serious head and arm injuries. Officials, including the Hingham harbormaster, said all the young men were wearing approved personal flotation devices, however the operator of the boat had not completed a Safe Boating Course required for those 12-16 years old to operate a motorboat without being directly supervised by someone 18 years or older.

While inexperience seemed to be the leading cause of this particular recreational boating accident, boating mishaps can happen for many different reasons, and are often the result of careless or reckless operation, inattention, speeding, and alcohol use. Just like driving a car, operating a boat is an important task. Some of the most commonly reported types of accidents include:
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A Massachusetts man and his young niece were hurt Sunday afternoon when a jet ski they were riding on in Lake Winnipesaukee, New Hampshire, blew apart.

According to Marine Patrol, who responded to the incident, the man broke his pelvis and the child, 8, suffered a laceration to her head. Both victims were taken to an area hospital for treatment. Marine Patrol officials are still investigating what may have caused the incident with the watercraft, but were able to put the jet ski back together when they arrived on scene.

jetski.jpgWatercraft and motorboat incidents happen all the time for a variety of reasons. While human error is usually to blame, people do not often think about the mechanical dangers of watercraft and boats, and often these mechanical failures blindside victims. What may start out as a fun day out on the water, can end in tragedy. When a jet ski accident does occur, the machine itself must be thoroughly inspected. Investigators often cite mechanical errors, design flaws, or other safety malfunctions as the causes of many of these types of crashes. Some of these types of safety issues may include complications with the propeller, gross overpowering or issues with the throttle, as well as issues with the fuel line.

Common Injuries Resulting from Jet Ski Accident

The most common types of injuries include:

• Broken bones • Brain injuries • Burns • Damaged ear drums • Dislocations • Serious neck and back injuries
• Spinal cord injuries
Who Is Responsible for My Injuries?

If you were involved in any type of watercraft incident, whether it was a motorboat accident or jet-ski accident, and you believe it was the result of defective design or malfunction, you may be eligible for compensation. Product manufacturers, distributors, wholesalers, and private sellers are supposed to guarantee that the products they are selling are safe for consumers’ use. When they fail to fulfill their obligations, and consumers are seriously injured or killed as a result of this failure, the injured victim and his or her family may file for damages against the liable party or parties.
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A Taunton man was killed yesterday after a boating accident on the Taunton River, and the boat’s operator has been charged with homicide by vessel while operating under the influence.

The crash occurred around 6 p.m. when the boat’s operator Anthony Rose, 46, crashed the boat into a tree in the water, killing his cousin Manuel Pinhero, 47. Investigators say Rose had been under the influence of alcohol and was traveling at a high rate of speed at the time of the accident.
Police received emergency calls around 5:45 p.m. from other boaters who witnessed the accident. After the accident, Rose allegedly drove the boat ashore near east Water Street in Taunton, where he and other passengers were met by Massachusetts Environmental Police. After failing field sobriety tests, Rose was placed under arrest and was charged with OUI homicide by vessel and negligent operation of a boat. He was arraigned in court this morning and held on $10,000 bail. The crash is still under investigation.


Just as with driving a car, operating a boat comes with high responsibility. Some of the main reasons people get into boating accidents include careless operation, inattention, inexperience, passenger behavior, speeding, and substance use. There are many different types of boat accidents, including boats colliding with other boats, boats flooding, passengers falling overboard, water sports mishaps, and as was the case yesterday boats colliding with fixed objects.
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A high-speed ferry that collided into a Manhattan dock today left at least 50 people with injuries-CNN says that number of injuries is closer to 85. Two of the victims were critically hurt, with one sustaining a serious head injury from falling down the boat stairs. The vessel had been transporting over 300 commuters. When the crash happened, dozens of them were tossed to the deck, and against walls, windows, and seats.

The ferry accident occurred at around 8:45am as the boat was pulling into the dock. The impact of the crash caused the boat’s hull to rip open. Per a witness who is quoted in a Boston Globe/AP story, a ferry employee had been telling her that the captains of the boat had complained that the vessel was difficult to maneuver.

The ferry is a catamaran that was constructed in 2003 and it was scheduled to undergo a huge mechanical overhaul in mere months. The National Transportation Safety Board sent investigators to the boating accident site.

According to New York, Seastreak LLC, the computer ferry company that owns the boat, has a history of boating accidents, bankruptcy, and lawsuits. Per NTSB and the US Coast Guard, in the last decade, the company has had at least 11 incidents involving its vessels, including equipment failure and ships running aground. Also, this particular boat was involved in another dock crash in 2009. In 2010, this ferry crashed into a dock pile.

Massachusetts Boating Accidents
In Massachusetts, please speak to a Boston boating accident law firm if you or someone you love was involved in this type of incident in this state. Common types of boating accidents
• Vessel malfunction • Poor maintenance • Reckless operation • Collision between boats • Dock accidents • Boating accident with a swimmer in the water • Falls overboard • Striking a fixed object in the water • Swamping/flooding • Capsizing • Sinking • Boating Accidents involving personal watercrafts
New York City ferry crash leaves 85 injured, CNN, January 9, 2013

Ferry Company in Wall St. Crash Has History of Accidents and Lawsuits, DNA Info New York, January 9, 2013

Ferry strikes NYC dock; at least 50 are injured,, January 9, 2013

More Blog Posts:
Danvers Man Injured by Exploding Personal Watercraft, Boston Injury Lawyers Blog, September 10, 2012
Boating Accident During Independence Day Celebrations Kills Three Children, Boston Injury Lawyers Blog, July 6, 2012

Alcohol Allegedly a Factor In Hull, Massachusetts Boating Accident that Caused Winthrop Woman to Sustain Fatal Head Injury, Boston Injury Lawyer Blog, September 15, 2011

This past Saturday, September 8, 2012, a 31 year old man from Danvers, Massachusetts survived a devastating incident that had initially mystified authorities. Karl Marchionda had just finished loading ten gallons of fuel into his Sea Doo GTX 155 personal watercraft. While alone in the craft at Long Lake Marina on Long Lake in Naples of western Maine, at around 4:50pm, he attempted to start the engine. The PWC then exploded. Karl was launched twenty feet into the air, crashing face first into the dock, according to witnesses. Parts of the craft, including the cover to the engine, coasted through the air for sixty feet.

According to the District Game Warden, Neal Wykes, sparks ignited vapors in the hull of the vessel when Marchionda attempted to activate the engine. There was no immediate determination of what caused the explosion. But after further review, Wykes ascertained that a mechanism that secured the fuel lines to the gas tank had become loose. This allowed fuel to enter the hull of the watercraft. Apparently the gas fumes were ignited when the engine started. Fortunately the blaze was quickly extinguished by the marina’s owner, James Davenport.

For Marchionda, though his injuries weren’t threatening to his life, and he was conscious and responsive when Wykes arrived, he had no recollection of the explosion or of being thrown through the air and landing on the dock. The Massachusetts resident was eventually taken to Bridgton Hospital with several broken ribs, two fractured vertebrae, abrasions, and lacerations to the face. The authorities from the Cumberland County Sherriff’s Office and rescuers from Naples Fire and Rescue are presently still investigating the incident.
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This past Sunday afternoon, John Howe Jr., 31, and Emily Howe, 29, a brother and sister from Sterling, Massachusetts were using their personal watercrafts (sometimes referred to as ‘jet skis’) on New Hampshire’s Lake Monomonac. When only about five feet into the water, and away from their boat launch, the watercraft exploded. The cause of the blast is under investigation with the New Hampshire Marine Patrol, and the brother and sister were tossed approximately ten feet from the vessel. Fortunately, they were wearing their floatation devices. And some good Samaritans helped them back to shore. Even more fortunately, all injuries were non-life threatening though Emily Howe had to be taken to the hospital.

American journalist, Howard Cossell, once declared that “sports is the toy department of life.”

I agree.

Humanity’s love affair with competition and activity dates back thousands of years to the original Olympics. And we’ve never been more in tune with our athletic heritage. Just this past summer, the world paused to admire its finest sportspersons, painting our bellies and faces alike, belting out cheers from the bottom of our feet.

For the first time ever, every country to compete in the Olympics sent women athletes. Usain Bolt cemented his legacy as a great by sprinting at a historic twenty-three miles per hour. But we don’t just run anymore. While Bolt topped out at twenty-three, we now drive cars that cruise well above two hundred miles per hour. We (intentionally!!!) drop out of airplanes from several miles in the sky. We strap breathing apparatuses to our faces and plunge into the seas, exploring worlds that were once restricted from us.
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Now that summer is here, more people will be going out into the water, which will increase the likelihood of both Massachusetts boating accidents and drowning deaths happening. Throughout the state, our Boston injury lawyers at Altman & Altman LLP represent victims who have been injured or families that have lost loved ones in both types of incidents. Your initial case evaluation with us is free.

Boating accidents can occur for many reasons, although the most common kinds of Massachusetts boating accidents involve boats colliding with other vessels or a fixed object, falls overboard, flooding, and water skiing accidents. Common causes include operator inattention, reckless/careless operation, operator inexperience, speeding, alcohol, and passenger/water skier misbehavior. Boating accidents may involve recreational boats, cruise ships, and US navy vessels. Civilians or maritime workers may be involved.

One recent tragic boating accident that made national headlines this week involved a yacht in Long Beach, New York on July 4. The 34-foot 1984 Silverton vessel, which was carrying over two dozen passengers, capsized on its way back to shore on Wednesday night. Many of the passengers ended up in the 21-feet deep waters, but Victoria Gaines, 8, Harlie Treanor, 11, and David Aureliano, 12, drowned because they were trapped in the cabin.

Officials are trying to determine what caused the boating accident. Some of the possibilities they are considering: the yacht was overcrowded, suffered a mechanical failure, or was hit by a powerful wake from the other boats.

3 Children Die After Yacht Capsizes, The Wall Street Journal, July 5, 2012

Boating Safety Resource Center
, US Coast Guard

More Blog Posts:

Middleborough, MA Woman Dies on Royal Caribbean Cruise Ship, Boston Injury Lawyer Blog, January 30, 2012

Alcohol Allegedly a Factor In Hull, Massachusetts Boating Accident that Caused Winthrop Woman to Sustain Fatal Head Injury, Boston Injury Lawyer Blog, September 15, 2011
US Coast Guard Reports 9 Massachusetts Recreational Boating Accidents in 2007,
Boston Injury Lawyer Blog, September 4, 2008 Continue reading