Was a New York Woman’s Overboard Accident Death Really an Accident?

Lipcon, Marguiles, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A

Life saverBoating accidents are common, especially during the summer months when a greater number of people are out enjoying the warm weather and clear skies. There can be several factors that can lead to an accident at sea or in a lake, but many are the result of someone’s negligence. Some people think that just because they are out in open waters, they can just do whatever they please, but that idea is a far cry from the reality of the matter. Each state imposes its own boating laws that individuals must abide by, or may suffer consequences such as losing their boating license, having to pay expensive fines or even going to jail. Some of the worst accidents in open waters are 100 percent preventable, such as those caused by speeding, pilot inexperience and alcohol intoxication. Yet, there are some boating accidents that remain a mystery.

Last month, authorities were ready to rule the drowning of a 39-year-old New York woman an accident, but her family isn’t convinced. Could the woman have been the victim of foul play?

The incident occurred on Sunday, August 11 in the Hamptons. The victim was out boating with her husband when she mysteriously fell overboard from a 45-foot vessel at around midnight. According to reports, the husband did not see his wife fall overboard but heard a splash and her screams in the darkness. The vessel was anchored roughly two miles off of Block Island Sound in Long Island when the tragedy took place.

The victim’s husband claims that though he could not actually see his wife, he threw several life jackets into the water in hopes that she would be able to grab a hold of one of them. The victim was not wearing a life jacket, a critical mistake.

Each boating accident lawyer at Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A. knows that it is absolutely imperative that all individuals engaging in water sports or activities wear a life jacket, which can prevent a victim’s death in the event an accident occurs and the victim is unable to stay afloat or is unconscious.

The victim’s husband radioed the Coast Guard after the accident and emergency crews arrived within 10 minutes, however, the victim’s body wasn’t recovered until about 12 hours later, 5 miles from where the boat was anchored.

Originally, a team of homicide detectives from Suffolk County was called to investigate the accident, though they declined to say whether the victim’s husband was suspected of foul play.

The victim’s husband told officers that he and his wife were enjoying a romantic night, stargazing on their boat, when his wife went toward the back of the vessel to grab a jacket. Police do not believe there was anything suspicious about the accident, but the victim’s brother told reporters that the story does not add up.

He explained his sister was an avid adventure lover who enjoyed activities from skydiving to bungee jumping, so he had a hard time believing she wouldn’t be able to get back onboard the boat.

“My sister was a survivor,” said the victim’s brother in an interview with The Post.

Though he didn’t flat out accuse his brother-in-law of committing a crime, he did say he wanted justice for his sister.

Friends of the boating accident victim remember the couple as being happily married for four years. There wasn’t any sign of trouble as far as anyone could tell.

Could this have been an accident or was there a motive behind the woman’s death?

This wouldn’t be the first time someone has been suspected of throwing someone overboard. Our attorneys have represented many boating accident and cruise accident victims’ loved ones who were the victims of foul play.

Last June, our maritime attorneys wrote about a cruise ship passenger who was accused of murdering his ex-wife in 2006 and throwing her body overboard in Italy. The suspect, Lonnie Kocontes, was formally indicted on the cruise ship murder charges after originally pleading ‘not guilty.’

The incident occurred while the ex-couple was sailing across the Mediterranean on a cruise ship. According to Kocontes, his ex-wife, Micki Kanesaki, left their cabin in the middle of the night to get some tea and he fell asleep. In the morning, he awoke to find that Kanesaki was not in the room. He reported the incident to crew members and an investigation began into Kanesaki’s disappearance. But instead of waiting for the investigation to conclude, Kocontes took a plane back to California before his ex-wife’s body was even recovered.

Kocontes wasn’t initially arrested for the cruise ship death, but then in 2008, the case was reopened after Kocontes began transferring large sums of money that belonged to Kanesaki into bank accounts he now held with his new wife. They believe he had a financial motive to kill Kanesaki, but the truth remains a mystery.

Accidents on the high seas are common, but unfortunately, so are assaults. More people than anyone can imagine have been the victims of foul play, aggravated assault and even sexual crimes. Our maritime lawyers would like to remind everyone that the open waters can be a source of great fun, but it’s important to remain safe. Wearing a life jacket is a must, as is refraining from consuming alcohol. It is also important to boat with a group of people, in case an accident occurs. As the old adage goes, “safe in numbers.” The more people that are present if a boating accident occurs, the better the chance of survival.