A 29-year-old Virginia woman was killed over Labor Day weekend in an Outer Banks boating accident. According to a spokesperson from N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission Law Enforcement, the incident happened around 2 p.m. in Hatteras Inlet near the ferry dock on the north end of Ocracoke Island.

The woman was in a rented boat that was traveling southwest across Hatteras Inlet. The area is known to be difficult to navigate through due to the constant movement of sand that forms the shoals throughout the water connecting Pamlico Sound and the Atlantic Ocean. The boat hit one of those shoals, throwing the victim into the water. The boat then struck the woman while she was in the water.

Shoaling issues in the inlet have been problematic for the past 20 years due to the constant erosion in the area, as well as erosion caused by Hurricanes Isabel and Irene. Despite pleas to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers from local residents, local and state leaders, commercial fishermen, and charter boat captains, to address ways to keep the channels open, the dangerous issues still remain. Making the matter even more troublesome is that Congress continues to slash the Corps’ dredging operations budget.

The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission Law Enforcement in investigating the incident.

Boating Accidents on the Rise

According to the 2020 Recreational Boating Statistics Report released by the U.S. Coast Guard, the number of boating accidents jumped 26 percent over the previous year. Boating accident fatalities were rose 26 percent and the number of injuries increased by 24 percent over 2019.

Certain types of boats also have a higher risk of being involved in a boating accident, according to the data contained in the report. Open motorboats were involved in 50 percent of the boating accidents last year, while 15 percent of accidents involved kayaks, and 9 percent involved pontoon boats.

Seventy-five percent of all fatal boating accident victims died by drowning, and 86 percent of those victims were not wearing life jackets.

The top five types of boating accidents that occurred were:

  1. Crash with a recreational vehicle
  2. Flooding/swamping
  3. Crash with a fixed object
  4. Grounding
  5. Falling overboard

According to the Coast Guard, the following are the top ten contributory factors in boating accidents where a victim is injured or killed:

  • Boat operator inattention
  • Boat operator inexperience
  • Improper lookout
  • Excessive speed
  • Mechanical failure
  • Violation of navigation rules
  • Alcohol use
  • Weather
  • Hazardous water
  • Wake or wave force

Let Our Firm Help

If you or a loved one has been injured in a boating accident, contact a skilled North Carolina boating accident attorney to find out what legal options you may have for the injuries you have suffered. The legal team at Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp has been advocating for boating accident victims for more than three decades and is well-versed and experienced in North Carolina boating laws. Call our office today to schedule a free and confidential case evaluation and find out what legal options you may have.  

Our firm also offers a free boating accident guide to victims who have sustained injuries in boating accidents. The guide covers topics such as whether or not a boating accident victim should pursue an injury claim, as well as boating accident laws, and insurance issues.