February 2011 Archives

February 22, 2011

2 High School Students Killed & 1 Man Critically Injured in Boat Accident


News4Jax.com reports two Middleburg High School students were killed and one of the victim's father was in critical condition after a boating accident on February 21, 2011 in Black Creek about 3 miles east of the County Road 209 bridge.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission reported high school students Travis Hanner and Halee Mickey were sitting on the bow of the boat "moving at a pretty good speed" about 2:30 p.m. when it hit a low-hanging branch of a tree. Hanner's father, Ted, who was operating the boat, was critically injured and transported to Shands Jacksonville Medical Center.

FWC investigators said beer was found in the boat and they did take blood from Hanner, although they do not believe alcohol was a factor in the crash.

Travis was a junior at Middleburg High, where he was in the ROTC program. Halee was a freshman and described a quiet and polite.

February 18, 2011

Royal Caribbean Cruises Crew Member Killed in Cozumel, Mexico


The Washington Post reports Nelson Perez Torres, a Mexican national, has been detained in the death of a Royal Caribbean Cruises crew member who was discovered drowned in the sea off the resort island of Cozumel.

Perez Torres, 24, confessed to hitting crew member Monika Markiewicz in the head with a rock and then throwing her into the ocean. Markiewicz, a 32-year-old musician from Poland, worked on the Allure of the Seas cruise ship. Her body was recovered from the ocean off the southern part of the island. An autopsy determined the cause of death was drowning, but said Markiewicz also had suffered a blow to the head.

Perez Torres told investigators that he met Markiewicz at a bar in Cozumel where he worked as a busboy and that they were in a relationship. He admitted the two were arguing when he pushed her against some rocks, hit her in the head with a stone and threw her in the ocean.

February 16, 2011

Boater Charged for Running over SCUBA Diver Near the Boca Inlet


The Orlando Sentinel reports a Highland Beach boater has been charged with negligence and careless operation after his motorboat struck and injured a scuba diver near the Boca Inlet on January 22, 2011.

Jon Berger, 64, was operating a twenty-eight foot Sea Fox powerboat when the accident happened. According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the propeller of the boat cut scuba diver James Shelley, 46, as he surfaced from a dive. Shelley was taken in critical condition to Delray Medical Center and was released days later.

Berger was also cited for failing to stay at least 300 feet away from a diver down flag and faces up to one year in jail and up to $1,000 in fines if convicted of culpable negligence.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission reports between 2004 and 2009, 22 scuba divers in Florida were injured or killed from boat run overs.

If you wish to learn more about a boat operator's duties towards scuba divers, please read our article entitled:

February 13, 2011

Princess Cruises' Crewmember Arrested for Sexual Assault


The Bermuda Sun reports a Princess Cruises' crewmember has been arrested and is facing charges for a sexual assault aboard the cruise ship Caribbean Princess, a Bermuda registered vessel.

Identified only as a "40-year-old Filipino", the crewmember was brought to Bermuda from Miami by the Bermuda Police Service to face the charges. He was given $5000 bail and his trial will begin on March 7, 2011.

The Caribbean Princess currently sails from San Juan, Puerto Rico on seven and fourteen day voyages.

February 13, 2011

Disney Cruise Line Passenger Sentenced to Jail for Abusive Sexual Contact on a 13 Year-Old-Girl During a Cruise


The Rochester Democrat and Chronicle reports a federal court sentenced Lucas George Wickes, 25, of Rochester to 46 months in prison for abusive sexual contact with a 13 year-old. Wickes was also ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $2,667 for abusive sexual contact on the high seas.

Wickes admitted that on Jan. 1, 2007, while on board the Disney Cruise ship Wonder leaving Port Canaveral, Fla., to the Caribbean, he knowingly engaged in sexual contact with a 13-year-old, stated Assistant U.S. Attorney Tiffany H. Lee.

The minor and her family boarded the Wonder on Dec. 31, 2006, according to the U.S. Attorneys' Office. That evening, the minor went to the ship's teen club with some other youngsters she met. After the club closed, Wickes approached them and ordered them to return to their rooms. He told the victim to follow him and she did, believing him to be a security officer with the cruise ship, according to officials. After Wickes led her to the rear of the ship, where no other people were around, he engaged in sexual contact with the minor placing her in fear that she would be subjected to serious bodily injury.

February 13, 2011

Four Passengers Die and One Rescued in the Gulf of Mexico After Sport Fishing Boat Accident


WWLTV.com reports four passengers of a sports fishing boat that overturned three miles off of South Pass in the Gulf of Mexico are dead and one has been rescued, according to the New Orleans Coast Guard.

The accident was reported around 1 p.m. on February 12, 2011. A spokesperson said an offshore vessel, the Sea Angel, was able to rescue one passenger, identified as Heath Dowsey, who was found without a life jacket clinging to the hull of an overturned sports fishing vessel. The dead were identified as: Kerri Burns, Randy Dowsey, Wayne Dowsey and Kenny Mac.

Lt. Brian Sattler, command duty officer at Sector New Orleans stated "It's an unfortunate truth that people who do not wear life jackets increase their risk of tragedy should an incident occur while on the water. The Coast Guard urges mariners to wear life jackets at all times as accidents can occur very quickly, and they may not have an opportunity to put one on during an emergency."

The cause of the incident is under investigation by Louisiana Department of Fish and Wildlife.

February 13, 2011

Florida Teen Looses Leg to a Hit and Run Boater Near the Juno Beach Pier


The Orlando Sentinel reports a local teen Gabby Besouza, 16, is in critical condition after being seriously injured in a hit and run boating accident.

Witnesses described Desouza and friends ran out to meet a 22 foot white Cobia on the streach of beach just south of the Juno fishing Pier. As the boat was near shore with its engines on, Desouza tried to jump aboard but she moved away as a wave carried the boat towards the shore. When a second wave hit, the boat was pushed into Desouza and two other girls. Unfortunately, this caused the boat's propeller to strike Desouza's leg.

Authorities stated the boat left the scene, but was later found at the Crab House in Jupiter. The two people believed to be on board were also located by deputies, but have not yet been identified. The boat was impounded as the investigation continues into what exactly happened in the water and why the boat took off. Authorities are investigating the incident and have yet to decide if charges will be brought.

February 13, 2011

Arrest Made in Biscayne Bay Hit and Run Collision that Injured 2 Miami Boaters


Miami Herald reports the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission have arrested a 21-year-old boater Michael Garcia of Miami in a hit-and-run accident in south part of Biscayne Bay.

The collision occurred on the night of February 5, 2011 outside of Gables Estates waterway. One boat struck the other and fled. The second boat made it ashore at Gables Estates and called 911.

Pedro A. Reyes, 26, of Miami, was injured in the collision and remains in critical condition at the Ryder Trauma Center. Reyes' younger brother, Diego, suffered minor injuries and was treated at the scene.

Coral Gables Police received a tip from a resident who saw a boat with significant damage located at 631 Arvida Parkway. The boat was owned by Garcia's father, Serafin Garcia. Family members told investigators the vessel was involved in an accident. Additional information led investigators to Garcia.

Garcia faces a felony charge of leaving the scene of an accident with bodily injury and a misdemeanor for failing to report the accident. Additional charges are pending.