Labor Day may be the unofficial end of summer, but for the victim of last weekend’s drunk boating accident, a season of recovery has just begun.
On Sunday afternoon of the recent Labor Day weekend, police responded to an unusual call at Middle Straits Lake in West Bloomfield, Michigan. A 24-year-old woman operating a standing Jet Ski struck a 60-year-old wader and drove him into a nearby pontoon boat. She apparently lost control of the watercraft and rode into a public swimming area. The Jet Ski rider continued to run the personal watercraft into the side of the boat, pinning the swimmer, until another boater brought it to a stop. Then she rode away, staying out on the water until she was stopped by police.
The West Bloomfield Fire Department transported the swimmer, a resident of West Bloomfield Township, to Huron Valley Hospital in stable condition. He had suffered multiple broken bones.
When the officers stopped the Jet Ski rider, it was clear she had been drinking. She was arrested for Operating While Intoxicated (Watercraft) and Operating Without a Boater’s Safety Certificate.
Drunk boating is at least as dangerous as drunk driving. Especially on holiday weekends when lakes and beaches are busiest, drinking and boating can put you, your passengers, and nearby swimmers at risk of injury and even drowning. Besides being illegal, drunk boating can impair your ability to react to nearby boats, skiers, and other people in the water. If someone were to make an unexpected turn, or lose a skier, that delayed reaction time could be fatal.
That’s why it is essential for boaters to stay away from alcohol. If an inebriated boater were to injure a swimmer or another boater, he or she could be guilty of a felony, and could be civilly responsible for all of that person’s injuries, economic losses, and non-economic damages. If your poor decisions cause someone serious injury, or worse result in death, you could also be responsible to the victim’s family for their loss of support and companionship. That is a big burden to bear, particularly because your auto insurance won’t cover it.
The summer boating season may be coming to a close, but this recent accident encourages late-season boaters to be especially careful to separate drinking and boating. The risk of harm to yourself and those around you is just too great to be drunk boating.
David Christensen is a boat accident attorney at Christensen Law in Southfield, Michigan. He and his team represent the victims of drunk boating accidents to make sure they get the recovery they need to cover their medical expenses and other costs. If you or someone you love has been injured in a boating accident, contact Christensen Law today for a free consultation.