With the advancement of life vest technology, man-overboard alarms, and anti-collision radar, Personal Watercraft (PWC) safety has greatly improved over the past few decades, but PWC accidents are still prevalent in New Jersey and in the United States.
On May 27th, over Memorial Day Weekend, a passenger on a jet ski tragically lost his life after the watercraft crashed into another jet ski. The passenger, Charles Sanchez of Belleville, New Jersey, was seated behind David Torres on his 2017 Yamaha Jet Ski. The operator of the other jet ski, Jorge Arribasplata, also had a passenger. Both watercrafts were traveling north on the Hudson River in New York when they collided with each other and all four men were thrown into the River. Boaters at a local marina acted quickly and called for the City of Newburgh Police Department and Mobile Life EMS, who arrived at the scene. Sanchez and Torres were transported to Montefiore St. Luke’s Hospital, in the Bronx, New York, where Sanchez was pronounced dead and Torres was listed under critical condition.
New Jersey Boating Accident Statistics
In 2021, the United States Coast Guard reported 4,439 boating-related accidents, which caused 658 deaths, 2,641 injuries, and approximately $65.7 million in property damage. The fatality rate was 5.5 deaths per 100,000 registered recreational vessels, which is a decrease from the 2020 fatality rate of 6.5 deaths per 100,000 vessels. 100 of the boating accidents occurred in New Jersey, and 7 of them were fatal. One particularly devastating accident occurred when a pontoon boat crashed into a marker near the Route 37 bridge in Barnegat Bay in Toms River. An 18-year-old boy was killed, and two of the other five victims were thrown off board.
The Coast Guard found that the top five primary contributing factors in accidents were operator inattention, operator inexperience, improper lookout, machine failure, and excessive speed, while the leading contributing factor in fatal boating accidents was alcohol use.
The Coast Guard also reported that, when cause of death was known, 81% of fatal boating accident victims had drowned, and of those victims with reported life jacket usage, 83% were not wearing a life jacket. Federal law requires that every person aboard a vessel must have a U.S. Guard-approved, wearable life jacket, and each state may have additional wear requirements. Most states require children under 13-years-old to be wearing the jacket while aboard a vessel.
Boating Safety Tips for New Jersey Citizens
The BoatUS Foundation, an organization that aims to promote safe boating, states that life jackets are the most important piece of equipment on a boat. Life jackets are the first line of defense in promoting water safety because they place the wearer in a face-up position, keeping the wearer’s mouth and nostrils clear of water to prevent risk from drowning. The Foundation also highlights the importance of verifying that the life jacket is properly fitted to the individual.
The Coast Guard also found that, where the level of instruction was known, 75% of deaths occurred in boating accidents where the operator did not receive boating safety instruction. Only 16% of deaths occurred on vessels where the operator had received a nationally-approved boating certificate. On its website, the Coast Guard has compiled a list of safety courses available for all types of recreational boaters. Like life jackets, educational courses are another important aspect of boater safety.
For jet skis specifically, Davis, Saperstein & Salomon, P.C. encourages jet ski operators and passengers to:
- Wear a life jacket and make sure that it fits properly and supports each passenger’s individual weights.
- Never mix jet skiing and substances.
- Always watch for bad weather conditions.
- Take a safety instruction course, and encourage passengers to do so as well.
- Before starting the jet ski, make sure your passenger is ready and is holding onto the operator tightly.
Contact the Boating Accident Injury Lawyers at Davis, Saperstein & Salomon, P.C. For Legal Help
If you are involved in a jet ski or boating accident, it may be because of negligence. Possible negligent parties include the operator of the boat, the operator of the colliding boat, and the boat manufacturer. You may be able to receive compensation for financial losses, medical expenses, and pain and suffering.
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Since 1981, the compassionate personal injury lawyers at Davis, Saperstein & Salomon have been delivering results for our deserving clients. We are solely committed to helping injured individuals, never representing corporations. No matter how large or small your personal injury case is, you can trust that it is important to us.