A diver was severally injured when a charter fishing boat ran him over. The incident occurred off the White Street Fishing Pier in Key West last Saturday, October 8th. Witnesses stated that the injured diver, along with another man, were displaying the legally mandated divers-down flags when the charter boat struck him at a high rate of speed. It appears that a propeller from the boat nearly severed diver’s left foot. The captain of the fishing boat retrieved the injured diver from the water and reported the incident to law enforcement. The captain was directed to return to shore where Key West Fire Rescue responded. The injured diver was taken to an area hospital. There have been no reports on the victim’s condition at the time of this post.
Florida’s Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission and the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office investigate such incidents. Florida law requires all divers without boats display a red divers-down symbol with a horizontal white strip that is a minimum of 12 inches by 12 inches which could take the form of a flag of buoy. Florida law also requires boat operators make a reasonable effort to maintain a distance of 300 feet of a divers-down flag or buoy on open waters.
In the civil law context, a boat operator who violates a safety statute, like Florida’s diver statutes, is presumed at fault and liable for the victim’s damages. The boat operator can only rebut this presumption by showing that the safety statute violation could not have been a cause of the accident. It is not likely that the boat operator can overcome this presumption as if a distance of 300 feet was maintained, the diver would not have been run over.
Below is a video report by The Blue Paper.