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Holiday Maritime Death Ruled An Accident

January 2, 2013

Maritime accident lawyers are often sought out by victims and their loved ones in order to determine the factors that contributed to an injury or death, as well as to fight for compensation and medical benefits. Some accidents are the direct result of someone’s negligence or equipment failure, while others are no one particular person’s fault. A recent maritime death was ruled an accident, but authorities wonder how much of a role alcohol played in the incident.

The victim, Leanne Maurer, 49, was determined to have slipped and fallen overboard on New Year’s Eve while on her families boat that was anchored in Australia’s Sydney Harbour. Maurer, a mother of four, drowned in the waters of Rose Bay Wharf as a result of the incident.

On the night of the accident, Maurer kissed her two youngest children goodnight and tucked them into bed, then said she was going to the aft of the vessel for a cigarette before going to sleep. Maurer’s husband, David, said he woke up about around 2 a.m. to discover his wife was not in bed, so he went to look for her, but she was not on the vessel. He immediately alerted maritime authorities and an investigation commenced shortly after. Maurer’s body was discovered at around 6 a.m. under the ferry jetty.

The family claims they had only owned the 40-ft Riviera vessel, a pleasure cruiser named Tornado, for three months. David said it was his and his wife’s “absolute dream.”

“We thought we’d have many, many happy years on it together…but I guess that wasn’t to be,” he said.

David Maurer believes his wife may have gone to the front of the vessel to fix a skylight that had blown open in the wind, and could have possibly fallen overboard. Authorities found a plastic wine glass at the rear of the boat, leading them to believe she may have had too much to drink. However, the victim’s husband denies his wife was drunk.

“She had enjoyed a few drinks, and was merry, but she wasn’t drunk,” he said.

Whether Maurer had more to drink that night has yet to be determined. However, alcohol consumption has been linked to many maritime accidents, especially those caused by drunken vessel operators. Anyone who has had any alcohol beverages is encouraged to leave the operation of a motor boat, jet ski or any other type of watercraft to a sober pilot. Alcohol consumption can lead to severe injuries and fatalities, whether the intoxicated person was a pilot or a passenger.

Detective Inspector Darren Schott, of the NSW Police Maritime Area Command, acknowledged the fact that Maurer had been drinking prior to falling off the boat and stressed the dangers of consuming alcohol while out at sea.

“You can be a competent swimmer but when alcohol is involved, regardless of how much, that can change things,” said Schott. “We want to remind everyone that boating and alcohol don’t mix.”

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