Senator Joe Gruters, a Republican from Sarasota, recently introduced new legislation geared toward boosting boating safety in Florida. SB 1562 is dubbed “Ethan’s Law” in honor of Ethan Isaacs, a 10-year-old who was killed in a boating accident last November.
Ethan was killed in a youth sailing event when the operator of the boat fell off the vessel, but the boat continued with him on board, crashing into other boats. The legislation proposed would require operators on boats smaller than 26 feet long wear engine cutoff switches that would shut off the vessel if the operator falls overboard.
Boat manufacturers are already required to include kill switches in engines. The new law would make it necessary for these kill switches to exist even on smaller vessels. It also establishes enforcement methods via the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission and local law enforcement.
There is an exception written into the bill for boats using only a trolling motor, in which circumstance the kill switch would not be necessary.
A joint statement from Ethan’s parents read:
“Ethan was an extremely gifted and kind boy with a full life ahead of him. His tragic death, which has caused our entire family a great deal of suffering, could have been prevented, It is our hope that Ethan’s Law will prevent future tragedies, safe lives and make the Florida waterways safer for everyone.”
There are already similar laws on the books in seven other states. This bill is modeled after those existing laws.
For more information about the steps you can take to file an injury claim and recover compensation after a boating accident caused by another person’s negligence, contact an experienced Sarasota, FL personal injury lawyer at Goldman, Babboni, Fernandez & Walsh.