Families of Drowning Victims File Lawsuits against Boat Companies

Drowning accident attorneys at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm report on two drowning incidents, one of which resulting in a wrongful death lawsuit. That case centers on an accident on Fourth of July 2012, when a boat sank off the coast of Long Island, New York, killing three children.

The Long Island incident took place on a 34-foot Silverton on Long Island Sound, just moments after the extravagant holiday fireworks concluded. The Silverton was carrying 27 passengers, most of whom were children. Three of those children died that night: an 8-year-old girl, a 12-year-old boy, and his 11-year-old cousin. The two relatives were in the cabin of the Silverton when it submerged underwater.

The Silverton was capsized by large waves on the Sound, where over 100 boats gathered to watch the fireworks show. The boat’s pilot, Salvatore Aureliano, has over 25 years of experience operating boat, and is now named as one defendant in the lawsuit. He told reporters that he saw two lightning bolts before the boat started turning over, and before he knew it, it had completely capsized, sending everyone, including his 12-year-old nephew, into the water.

The boat was made in 1984, was owned by Aureliano’s brother-in-law, and was designed to hold far fewer people than it was that night. Adult passengers on board tried desperately to free the children trapped in the cabin before emergency responders arrived, to no avail. Ultimately, the boat sank 60 feet to the bottom of the Sound, where rescuers later recovered the children’s bodies.

A spokesperson for the Coast Guard affirmed that there is no federal standard limiting the capacity of passengers on a recreational boat of that size. Life jackets for every passenger are required to be on board, and children 13 years and younger are required to wear one at all times (except while below deck or in a cabin), but that is the extent of federal oversight.

The lawsuit was filed by the father of the 8-year-old girl and names ten defendants, including the Dolan family, who hosted the fireworks display that night. Upon concluding its investigation, Nassau County determined that overcrowding was the primary contributing factor to the accident, which it based on stability tests conducted on the Silverton.

A similar investigation was recently opened in Miami after a 6-year-old boy drowned in a swimming pool onboard a Carnival cruise ship. He was swimming with his 10-year-old brother at the time. When other passengers saw the younger boy drowning, they tried to pull him from the water and begin CPR, however, he was pronounced dead at the scene.

Cruise ships like the Carnival Victory are not required to have active, on-duty lifeguards, which has been subject to much contention recently. Corporations like Carnival and Disney argue that the responsibility should rest on parents and family members to watch over children while they swim, while others content the responsibility should be the corporations’.

In April 2013, we wrote about the near-drowning of a 4-year-old boy onboard a Disney Fantasy cruise. He survived, but was in a coma at the time of reporting, facing extensive brain damage from the lack of oxygen to his brain while underwater. Cruise companies do clearly warn families that there are no lifeguards on duty on their ships, however, many are calling for corporations to reconsider.

According to the CDC, drowning is the second leading cause of unintentional death among children aged 1-4, and the fifth leading cause of death for Americans of all ages. Pool drowning lawyers at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm have decades of experience working on these types of case and strongly advocate on behalf of all drowning victims. If you or a loved one suffered a drowning or near-drowning incident due to someone else’s negligence, you have important legal rights, and should contact a skilled drowning accident attorney as soon as possible for a free legal consultation.

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