A teenager was killed and six others were expelled from a speeding boat that collided with a canal sign in the Intracoastal Waterway as they returned from a Halloween party on Florida’s Gulf Coast, police officials said.
Bob Gualtieri, Pinellas County Police Chief, said during a press conference that the 16-year-old boat driver has been arrested for negligent homicide. He added that the driver showed no signs of weakness after the accident.
Sheriff said Rachel Herring, 16, died in the accident.
The group of teens, aged 16-17, left for the party at the boat driver’s house. They picked up another teen along the way. Al-Sharif said that the teenager brought alcohol on board.
Al-Sharif said the party was attended by 20 to 40 teenagers downstairs, while the adults threw a party upstairs. Some teens drank alcohol and marijuana at the party.
He said they headed to the party near the Treasure Island Bridge and returned home after midnight. They dropped one teenager before the accident happened.
The boat hit the canal sign and everyone was expelled. Al-Sharif said that the earthquake then hit the sea wall. None of the teens wore life jackets.
Gualtieri said Herring apparently drowned, and her body was found through an app on her phone. It was found half a mile south of the scene.
Another teenager was taken to hospital to receive treatment for minor injuries. He said that none of the other teenagers had been treated for the injuries.
Al-Sharif said that the family recently acquired the boat, which has not yet been registered with the state. He said that investigators have obtained a search warrant for the boat and hope to recover electronic data about the accident.
Guterres said speed and poor lighting of the boat were factors causing the collision.
Hering’s mother was out of state and was on her way home with the help of the mayor’s office, Gwalteri said. He said that the teen’s father spoke to the victim’s lawyer from the sheriff’s office.
He said, “This is very tragic.” “You have a 16-year-old girl who is dead, and it won’t get any worse.