A man remained in critical condition in West Virginia two days after the motorboat in which he was riding crashed into a parked barge along the Kanawha River on the night of June 22, 2014. The accident occurred near the Chelyan Bridge that connects I-64/77 and U.S. 60 south of Charleston. He sustained life-threatening traumatic brain injuries, and the driver and two other passengers in the boat also required hospital treatment for various kinds of head trauma.
Investigators from the state's natural resources and commerce departments could not immediately determine why the boat ran into the barge. While empty beer bottles were found in the craft, the boat's driver did not appear to be intoxicated at the time of the collision, officials told the West Virginia MetroNews Network. Neither speeding nor a failure to use vessel lights seem to be at fault, either.
What is clear, however, is that accidents on the water can cause as much damage and suffering as highway crashes. Practicing personal injury law in Virginia Beach and having experience helping victims of boating accidents, I know that people can sometimes treat waterways as areas without traffic regulations. While it is not yet clear that this was the case for the person steering the boat that crashed in West Virginia, the accident should serve as a lesson about the terrible things that can happen when watercraft collide.
To ensure everyone's safety, boat operators should complete safety training and obtain licenses just like drivers do. Likewise, anyone steering a motorboat needs to know that he or she can face criminal charges for boating while intoxicated, becoming distracted before causing a wreck or operating a watercraft negligently and recklessly.