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Woman’s Body Recovered Following Boat Crash in Hell’s Gate on Homosassa River

hudson-beach-317555_640-300x200Authorities recovered a Lecanto woman’s body last month after she was thrown from a boat that struck a channel marker in the Homosassa River’s Hell’s Gate.

Officers with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s (FWC’s) Division of Law Enforcement brought the 46-year-old woman back to shore at the Riverhaven Marina, according to FWC spokeswoman Karen Parker.

FWC, the U.S. Coast Guard, the Citrus County Sheriff’s Office and Citrus County Fire Rescue had been searching for the woman since she went overboard at around 4:56 p.m. Sunday, March 22, according to FWC’s preliminary boating crash report.

Rescuers had to suspend their search efforts at nightfall. 

FWC’s report states the woman was boating on an open 20-foot Sea Fox vessel with her 58-year-old husband, along with a 54-year-old woman and a 64-year-old man, both of Homosassa. 

They were returning at 4:30 p.m. to the Homosassa Springs Marina following a day of fishing in the Gulf of Mexico, and were approaching Hell’s Gate, a narrow and treacherous area of the Homosassa River’s channel and a popular scene of boating crashes.

The 64-year-old man was at the helm, traveling between 20 and 25 mph, FWC’s report states.

The man rented the boat through his membership with the Freedom Boat Club, which allows its members access to vessels at participating docks.

Both men were keeping watch on the river’s channel to make sure they stayed within its markers.

The FWC’s report indicates at the last moment one of the men realized they were approaching Hell’s Gate on the wrong side of the channel. The driver attempted to correct his route but the vessel’s starboard side struck channel marker 58A, ejecting the woman into the water. None of the vessel’s other occupants were injured.

The woman’s husband jumped into the water to rescue her, and the other man threw a cushion to help keep them afloat, but the woman went underwater and did not resurface, FWC’s report states.

FWC officers found the woman’s body just west of the crash scene. Authorities don’t believe alcohol was a factor in the crash.

Countless numbers of boaters take advantage of the land of Seven Rivers, also known as Citrus County. Residents and visitors alike can enjoy the Gulf of Mexico, Kings Bay, several lakes, the many natural springs, and of course the rivers. Unfortunately, boating accidents occur quite often on these waterways. Sometimes, these accidents cannot be helped, and other times these boating accidents are the direct result of a driver’s negligence or a defect in the boat or its equipment.

The U.S. Coast Guard data shows that the most common causes of boating accidents include:

  • Alcohol and drug use
  • Excessive speed
  • Failure to ventilate the boat or equipment
  • Failing to properly observe other boaters or improper lookout
  • On-board navigation lights that do not work properly
  • Inattentive boat operators
  • Inexperience boat operators
  • Restricted vision
  • Infraction of the rules of the “road,” including right-of-way rules
  • Sharp turns
  • Starting the boat in gear
  • Improperly anchoring the boat
  • Loading the boat incorrectly by distributing weight improperly or overloading the boat
  • Equipment failure
  • Hull failure
  • Machinery failure
  • Overly congested waterways
  • Dangerous waters, such as waves or wakes
  • Inclement weather
  • Missing or insufficient navigation aids
  • Fires due to spilled fuel or vapors igniting

There are many boat accidents that are the result of a combination of these factors. Whatever the cause, boat crashes can result in significant injuries and even death to those on board. 

Boat accidents are usually complicated matters. Insurance companies and the other parties involved may challenge your every move in these cases. Our Citrus County Boating Accident Lawyers at Whittel & Melton want to help you get the financial recovery you deserve after a boat accident leaves you injured or took a loved one from you. We’re here to help you assert your rights and recover for the following injuries: 

The statute of limitations on these types of cases are short. This means you have a small recovery window for pursuing compensation after your boat accident. The statute of limitations for a boating accident claim in Florida is four years, with certain exceptions. Maritime law has a different statute of limitations, so you may have less time to file a claim. We urge you to not wait too long, as you can lose your legal right to get the money you deserve.

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