Florida has the highest number of recreational boats registered per capita in the United States. Because of this, they have developed a number of laws to keep boaters safe. These laws include carrying identification while operating a vessel. People born on or after January 1, 1988 must complete a NASBLA-approved voter education course prior to operating a vessel powered by a motor that has 10 horsepower or more. A person must be at least 14 years old to operate a personal watercraft, such as a jet ski. Of course, operating a boat at more than recommended speeds or while intoxicated is also illegal.
The News-Press reports that the March death of a Lee County urologist was ruled an accident.
51-year-old Dr. Omar Benitez was an experienced boater. He had more than 100 hours boating and was also an experienced swimmer. He was operating the vessel in Hendry Creek off of Estero Bay. The vessel was a 21-foot Pathfinder Bay bass-fishing style boat.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission determined that Benitez was running the vessel without lights at night. He was also going at a considerable rate of speed. He failed to negotiate a curve and ran aground on a group of mangroves.
Benitez’s BAC was 0.17%, more than twice the legal limit of .08% for operating a vessel.
Upon impact, he was thrown forward into the console, which likely caused a lapse of consciousness, and then fell into the creek, where he drowned.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission has determined that Benitez’s death was an accident and that speed and alcohol were contributing factors.