Palm Valley Fatal Boating Accident Kills Five And Leads to Tributes, Grief and Questions

So far about 1,500 people have signed a Facebook memorial for one of the victims of last Easter Sunday’s boat crash near Jacksonville. Liz Rosenfeld, 20, and a student at the University of North Florida was buried Thursday. Two women who worked at the Clay County YMCA will be buried Friday.

They were three of the five people killed last Sunday evening when their 22-foot boat hit a tugboat in the Intracoastal Waterway in Palm Valley just south of Jacksonville. According to a report from, altogether 14 were on the boat when it slammed into a tug tied up to a barge at a worksite building a boat lift in this tragic coastal accident in Florida.

Among those killed was a 23-year-old woman from California. Two other people in their 20s and two in their 40s, all from the Ponte Vedra Beach, Jacksonville Beach, or Jacksonville area. The 44-year old woman killed was a local math teacher.

Nine were injured and three had to be airlifted to area hospitals. Shortly after 9 p.m. Shand’s trauma center took in the mass casualties that included blunt trauma, head injuries, fractures, and internal injuries.

Alcohol was present at the site of the private boating accident in Florida, but there is no word on who was driving and whether he or she was impaired, which is illegal, though it is not illegal to have an open container of alcohol on the boat as it would be in a car.

The crowd was traveling north from The Conch House Marina in St. Augustine. Expect charges to be filed. The 22-foot Crownline was over capacity by two passengers and it was traveling in a no-wake zone. Witnesses at The Bridge restaurant say they saw it going nearly full throttle then they heard the emergency vehicles.
The boat belongs to 37-year-old Melvin Bethel of Pone Vedra Beach who is listed in fair condition at the Mayo Clinic. The Florida Wildlife Commission is conducting the investigation as is the National Transportation Safety board because of the number of deaths and injuries.

The nine survivors of the Florida boating accident will be asked to answer many questions and an intense review of the boat remains will take time.

Investigators will want to know what the conditions of the throttle, the engine, and steering mechanisms on the boat tells them, as well as what the damage to each vessel reveals. What we probably won’t ever know is why people don’t consider the dangers of boating. Reporting on deaths from boating accidents in Florida is an all too common occurrence.

The entire community here is mourning this loss of life and our hearts go out to the families involved. Ultimately the federal agency will share what we all can learn here to prevent injury from future boating accidents.

At Farah and Farah, we handle personal injury cases in Florida and our lawyers are experienced in all areas of maritime litigation. Whatever the nature of your claim or the condition of your boating accident, our skilled Florida maritime law attorneys will assist you with your recovery and get you the compensation you deserve. Call us today at 800-533-3555.