Boating accidents take place on an everyday basis. Some are the result of mechanical failure, while others occur due to someone’s negligence. Failure to pay attention to one’s surroundings while boating, speeding, heading out to sea during unfavorable weather conditions, and pilot inexperience are all factors that contribute to serious – if not fatal – boat-related accidents each year. However, the boating accident lawyers at Lipcon, Margulies & Winkleman, P.A. have represented an alarming number of victims who were involved in maritime crashes due to intoxicated pilots. Boating While Intoxicated on alcohol or drugs, known as BWI, is a crime, similar to Driving Under the Influence. And just like drunk drivers face severe fines and penalties for operating their vehicles while intoxicated, so too do boaters face punishment for their crimes.
Recently, two men who were charged in a fatal Mississippi River boat crash near Burlington last may have been scheduled to go to trial. Twenty-one-year-old Joseph Schier Jr. and 22-year-old Douglas Metcalf have each been charged with one count of Boating While Intoxicated, causing death and four counts of involuntary manslaughter.
Schier and Metcalf, both of Burlington, Iowa, were operating jon boats on May 19, 2012 when the accident took place. According to Des Moines County Sheriff Mike Johnstone,
a group of people had been partying on an island sandbar on the Mississippi River near Burlington on the morning of May 19 when two flat-bottomed aluminum boats that were carrying people from the sand bar to the shore collided almost head-on at around 2 a.m. One of the vessels had 11 people onboard and all were thrown into the water upon impact. Four people were killed as a result of the accident: Matthew House, Jacob Boyd, Caitlyn Atchley, and Blake Eakins. All of the victims were in their early 20s and were from Burlington.
Johnstone said it was dark on the night of the crash and one of the vessels did not have its lights on and it is unclear whether the other one did. The collision occurred roughly four miles north of the U.S. Highway 34 bridge.
The trial for the two men has been set for May 7th. Both boaters have entered not guilty pleas to the BUI charges against them. However, they face strict BWI penalties in their home state. In 2011, Iowa passed a law that lowered the blood-alcohol content limit for boating while intoxicated from .10 percent to .08 percent — the same standard applied to motorists operating an automobile. If convicted, the men face jail time as well as possible lawsuits against them for negligence by the families of the deceased.
Boating accident lawyers can help the loved ones of fatal maritime crashes obtain the justice they deserve following the incident, especially when the deaths were the result of someone’s carelessness. Our attorneys are always available to offer assistance to victims and their families and work diligently to secure compensation to our clients for their pain and suffering.
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