Yacht Crashes into Florida Drawbridge; Our Boating Accident Lawyer Examines Maritime Hazards and Probable Contributing Factors

Lipcon, Marguiles, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A

On December 2, a 161-foot multi-million dollar mega-yacht stopped both sea and land traffic when it collided into a drawbridge near Biscayne Bay. The yacht was being pulled by two tug boats when it hit the drawbridge that connects North Miami to Bay Harbor Islands.

The yacht, named the Rockstar, became pinned under the drawbridge, stopping both sea and land traffic. Authorities explain 15 people were on board the vessel, but fortunately no one was hurt in the incident.

​Reports indicate that the drawbridge may have collapsed on top of the yacht while it was being pulled beneath the channel. When the bridge landed on the yacht, it came down next to the hot tub and caused tens of thousands of dollars in damage.

​The Rockstar was pinned for about 20 minutes before it was finally dislodged and towed away. Even after the yacht had been towed away, city engineers had to keep the bridge closed in order to perform a safety inspection and ensure that the bridge was safe for traffic.

Apparently, the bridge was set up to receive a $13 million renovation starting in January. Aspects of the renovation would include the repair of the drawbridge’s lowering and raising mechanism.

​The U.S. Coast Guard explains that it is unclear whether the yacht initially collided with the drawbridge, or if the drawbridge initially fell on the yacht. Until more investigations are performed, we won’t know who is responsible for the accident.

​Even so, several facts do remain clear. Faulty city infrastructure created a situation that was both dangerous to boats and car traffic. A draw bridge should be able to withstand the impact force of a vessel going beneath it without posing a danger to these vessels. The fact that the drawbridge was up for repairs raises some red flags. We know that municipalities are struggling to come up with money to repair city infrastructure, but the consequences of these failures can be tragic. In 2013, in Scott City, Missouri a bridge collapse injured seven people. And, in 2009, a bridge connecting San Francisco to Oakland collapsed as well, injuring one person.

​The fact that the yacht was being pulled by two tugboats also increases the risk of accident. Tug boats are well-documented to be dangerous vessels on which to work, and are also prone to accidents. Towing lines, winches, and the fact that towing operations must be carefully coordinated affairs, all pose a hazard to tug crews and also to other boaters. In the case of the yacht, the casualty was the bridge itself and a delay in traffic.

Any boating accident lawyer at our firm can tell you that this combination of hazards are a reason for concern. While investigations continue, the accident is a sober reminder to boaters to use caution, particularly around bridges and other vessels.