The family of an 8-year-old boy killed last December in a boating accident in San Diego Bay during the annual Parade of Lights is still waiting for answers from the U.S. Coast Guard. The boy was riding on his family's 24-foot boat along with 12 other people from two other families in San Diego Bay when a 33-foot Coast Guard vessel responding to an emergency call crashed into them. The boy died an hour later from blunt force injuries at UCSD Medical Center. Five other people on the boat were injured, including two other young children.
The three families filed a lawsuit on February 16 against the federal government, alleging negligence and wrongful death. Attorneys for the families say their goals in the lawsuit are to compel the Coast Guard to make changes regarding how it operates on San Diego Bay. In addition, they want to make sure that the people who are responsible for the safety of the public are not actually jeopardizing public safety.
In the lawsuit, the family accuses the leaders of the San Diego Bay Coast Guard crew of knowing that the boat's crew was not adequately trained or supervised. The Coast Guard boat was traveling at 35-40 mph at the time of the crash. The boat carrying the families was traveling at 5 mph. The suit claims that the Coast Guard boat should not have been traveling more than 5 mph as the Bay was crowded with hundreds of spectator boats during the evening parade. After the accident, other witnesses came forward claiming to have seen the Coast Guard boat "hot rodding" around the Bay on other occasions.
The Coast Guard so far has expressed its deep condolences to the families for the tragedy, while also emphasizing that it has strict training standards and a solid safety record in the U.S. At the time the lawsuit was filed, the government had 60 days to respond.
- 3 families in fatal boat crash suing Coast Guard (San Diego Union-Tribune)