In May, Ira Leesfield underlined the increased dangers in all water-related activities, including boating, during national holidays when he wrote: “Memorial Day boating and water sports highlight safety issues in the Florida keys.” This past weekend, during the 4th of July festivities, tragedy struck when three boats collided, resulting in the death of four people, and seven more severely injured.
Investigating officers for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission have released several answers as to what exactly happened on Friday night at around 10:40pm. Fish and Wildlife spokesman Jorge Pino said yesterday that it is typical for boaters to go out on the bay to watch the July 4th fireworks from the water. When the fireworks end, it is also typical that the majority of these boats sprint back to land, and the dark conditions always make heightened the dangers of a potential boat collision or accident. It would only take a leap to hear the investigators look to the operator of the Contender as the potential responsible person for the three-boat collision.
According to witnesses aboard the Carrera, the Contender was “coming straight toward” them at high speed and crashed into the Carrera before any evasive maneuvers could be undertaken by either captains. The Contender spun out of control after the first impact and ended its course after colliding with a third boat, the Boston Whaler.
This violent accident took the lives of 3 young people who were aboard the Contender, including its supposed captain, Andrew Garcia, 23. The other two fatally wounded victims are Victoria Dempsey, 20, and Kelsie Karpiak, 24. The remaining two passengers on the Contender, Catherine Payan, 24, and Samantha Rolth, sustained catastrophic injuries as well and to date, Catherine is still fighting for her life at Ryder Trauma Center.
One young man on the Carrera lost his life, Jason Soleimani, 23, from Old Westbury, New York. He was in Miami with his girlfriend, Heather Hanono, 22. The Hanono family was also on the boat with them, including two toddlers, Emma, 5, and Ella, 2. Both were uninjured in the incident. Thankfully, none of the passengers on the Boston Whaler were injured other than a minor leg injury.
As we have discussed on this blog many times in the past, Florida is the number one State in total numbers of registered vessels, and reportable boating accidents. Across the State of Florida, Miami-Dade county has the highest number of accidents and injuries.
That is why the law firm of Leesfield Scolaro has handled many boating accidents cases throughout the State, the majority of which involved fatal accidents, including a seven-figure settlement for the death of a 20-year-old girl who was a passenger in a speedboat that crashed into a dock on a lake in the middle of the night. In that case, speed and alcohol were involved.