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NJ Boaters call on NJ State and Ocean County Reps to create laws on speed and leaving the scene of an accident on the water

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At the recent homicide trial related to the boating accident death of Robert Post, the Defendant was in a high performance speed boat and estimated to have been travelling almost 70 mph in low visibility, at night on the Metedeconk River, a narrow body of water that is part of Barnegat Bay. That evening he struck head-on and ran over another smaller boat, killing one and seriously injuring two. And then, he left the scene.  And the sound of him restarting his engines and departing even appears on the 911 call. If the injured parties had not had a cell phone on board, they would have drifted until morning and two others would have surely died from shock, exposure and blood loss.

At trial, a significant part of the Defense was that there are no speed limits on the water and that performance, racing-type boats with attainable speeds of 90 mph can go any speed desired at both day and night. This is wrong in the extreme.  Certain parts of our inland waters such as the Metedeconk River and Toms River in Barnegat Bay and the Shrewsbury River are very busy with high usage by a broad range of craft and boat operators, especially during summer. All roadways have speed limits and many lakes have speed limits of 50 mph during the day and 30 mph at night. Why would New Jersey inland waters be any different?  These speeds are very reasonable and would not restrict the enjoyment of the significant majority of recreational boaters while increasing the safety for all. We call on legislators to institute laws governing speed in certain enclosed areas such as the Metedeconk River in Barnegat Bay.  Lack of any such speed restriction is a significant safety issue for all boaters.

Earlier that evening prior to the accident, Defendant was at a bar, but by leaving the scene and turning himself in late, use of alcohol could not be proven.  His actions that evening led directly to the death of one and the near death of two others. His penalty for leaving the scene? It was a $25 summons. 

On the roadways, leaving the scene of an accident involving a death is a second degree felony that is handled in the Superior Court of New Jersey with a potential State prison sentence of five to ten years with less leeway given for first time offenders.  An accident involving serious bodily injury is a third degree felony with a potential State prison sentence of three to five years. And unlike being in a car where ambulances are much more immediately available, a stranded boat with injured occupants will drift and the rescue time is significantly longer.  In addition, boating accidents carry the real risk a damaged boat may sink leading to drowning.  Boaters need to rely on each other much more than automobile drivers and leaving the scene becomes more of a critical issue, not less. 

In addition to a law against leaving the scene, we would like all power boats over 20’ in length to be required to carry a spotlight at night, and following a collision, be required to investigate what they hit to assess damage and injuries to others. Laws related to leaving the scene of a boating accident exist in other states and should exist in New Jersey, especially given that our waterways are such high usage. We call on legislators to institute laws preventing a boater from leaving the scene of an accident, similar to those that exist on all roadways and on the water in other states. 

Both these measures are essential to ensure the safety of the broad range of recreational boaters that currently enjoy the resources of our State. Right now boaters are fearful, knowing that the current laws allow cigarette-type racing boats to run in congested waters with no speed restriction and to leave the scene of an accident they may cause with little penalty.

BOLTS (Boaters Outraged at Leaving The Scene) is a group of people including residents and boaters in New Jersey that have watched this trial carefully and been tremendously saddened and angered by the verdict. We are all strongly committed to changing the laws in New Jersey to prevent this type of accident from happening again and to promote the safe enjoyment of our State’s waters.

And if you need any further convincing, listen to the 911 call and watch the testimony of one of the boat victims via the following link. The 911 call is important because it demonstrates the horror of the high speed accident, you can hear the Defendant restarting his engines and leaving the scene, and it illustrates the tremendous difficulty locating a damaged boat at night on the water as well as the risk of sinking. http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2013/04/tearful_widow_recounts_boat_cr.html#incart_river_default

Prosecution and widow comments following the verdict concerning leaving the scene: http://videos.nj.com/star-ledger/2013/04/prosecution_widow_of_bob_post.html

Please support BOLTS by signing this petition and forwarding it to other concerned citizens. Thank you. 

We also have a Facebook page where we will provide updates. You do not need to be a Facebook member to see it, but if you are on Facebook, you can “like” this page and updates will be sent to you automatically.  The address is: https://www.facebook.com/pages/BOLTS/565694206795645

BOLTS in the news:

Brick Patch 5/1/13:  http://brick.patch.com/articles/brick-boating-accident-widow-strengthen-nj-s-leaving-the-scene-law-for-boat-accidents

Ocean Star 5/2/13: http://starnewsgroup.com/weekly/2013/05.03.13/boaters_call_05.03.13_58842.html?featured=*

 



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