Sunday, June 17, 2018
News Roundup

Lawsuit claims charter boat captain was improperly licensed, negligent at time of two deaths near St. Pete Beach

The family of the 21-year-old who died after jumping into the gulf from a charter boat in March is suing, saying inaction and inexperience caused the death of their son and the boat employee who tried to save him.

In a lawsuit filed in Pinellas County, the familyís attorneys say Capt. Todd Davis did not have the proper license, failed to warn his passengers of potential dangers, did not go over safety equipment or what to do in an emergency and gave the Coast Guard incorrect information that delayed search efforts.

The family is also suing Patrick Dines of St. Petersburg. His company, Florida Yachts Charter, brokered the charter; the suit alleges he allowed Davis to operate boats without the proper experience.

On March 14, Jie Luo and 14 friends boarded the Jaguar for a sunset cruise, according to the Pinellas County Sheriffís Office. Bad weather kept them from their destination of Shell Key.

"The channel Captain Davis chose to anchor in and allow his passengers to jump off of the vessel (was) extremely hazardous and unsafe .?.?. all of which were clearly known and foreseeable," the lawsuit says.

Luo, a Chinese student studying at Colorado State University, grew fatigued after jumping off the boat a third time. Charter boat employee Andrew Dillman, 27, jumped in after him without a flotation device.

It was not immediately clear which type of Coast Guard credentials Davis has, but Coast Guard spokesman Michael De Nyse said the agency has not "initiated suspension or revocations" against them at this time.

"The tragedy surrounding the loss of life from the Jaguar is still under investigation," he said.

But captains packing boats with more passengers than their credentials allow has been an ongoing problem across the country as well as in Tampa Bay, according a November Tampa Bay Times investigation into the charter boat industry.

Area captains had complained about the Jaguar and other boats that did not seem to be following the rules for years, according to the Times report.

Capt. Dan Peretz worried someone could get seriously hurt or die.

"(Davis) should have never dropped that anchor in that situation because of the weather conditions," said Peretz, who owns the charter boat company Dolphin Landings. "It was blowing really hard and there were swells coming in."

The Nov. 29 lawsuit says Davis failed to have proper lookouts while people were in the water and did not immediately pull up the boatís anchor to search for Luo or Dillman.

The lawsuit further claims that Davis didnít properly "mark" the last place either man was seen, took too long to contact the Coast Guard and other authorities and misreported facts of what happened to investigators.

Both menís bodies were found days after an exhaustive search and rescue mission.

The college students found the Jaguar online through the company Florida Yachts Charter.

In a letter to the Times last month, the company said that as a bare-boat charter, the safety of the passengers was the responsibility of the college student who chartered the boat.

Luoís parents, Zhongqun Lu and Lieping Luo, live in China and have a Tampa woman representing their estate in court. She could not immediately be reached for comment.

Davis, who runs a bow-fishing trip business out of Pasco County, did not return phone calls for the November story nor did he return a phone call Wednesday morning regarding the lawsuit.

When the owner of the charter company, Dines, was asked about the lawsuit by phone he said he could not comment.

"My attorney said thatís not a wise thing to do," he said.

Times senior news researcher Caryn Baird contributed to this report. Contact Sara DiNatale at sdinatale@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8862. Follow @sara_dinatale.

 
Comments
Fatherís Day on the water

Fatherís Day on the water

Luis Santana | TimesBoaters take advantage of the calm seas and warm weather to enjoy the waters near the Dunedin Causeway on Fatherís Day. Dozens of boats were beached along the shores of Caladesi Island and Honeymoon Island State Park.
Updated: 5 hours ago
FBI agent removed from Russia probe for anti-Trump texts says heís willing to testify before Congress

FBI agent removed from Russia probe for anti-Trump texts says heís willing to testify before Congress

The FBI agent who was removed from the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election for sending anti-Trump texts intends to testify before the House Judiciary Committee and any other congressional committee that asks, his attorney sai...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Erosion of immigrant protections began with Trump inaugural

Erosion of immigrant protections began with Trump inaugural

The Trump administrationís move to separate immigrant parents from their children on the U.S.-Mexico border has grabbed attention around the world, drawn scorn from human-rights organizations and overtaken the immigration debate in Congress.Itís also...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Motorcyclist and pedestrian die in Pasco crash

Motorcyclist and pedestrian die in Pasco crash

NEW PORT RICHEY ó A motorcyclist and pedestrian both died in a crash Saturday night near Palmetto Road and U.S. 19, police reported.About 10:30 p.m., a St. Petersburg man, 41, was riding a 2012 Honda motorcycle north on the highway, according to the ...
Published: 06/17/18
For starters: Rays at Yankees, looking to avoid a four-game sweep

For starters: Rays at Yankees, looking to avoid a four-game sweep

UPDATE, 11:37: Interesting decision by the Rays to move Adames to 2B today and reinstall Hechavarria at SS as he came off DL following Arroyo injury.Here is the Rays lineup:Duffy 3bBauers 1bRamos cCron dhAdames 2bHechavarria ssGomez rfRefsnyder lfFie...
Published: 06/17/18
Chicago soldier killed in Korea finally being laid to rest

Chicago soldier killed in Korea finally being laid to rest

CHICAGO — Not long after her father went missing during the Korean War, Carol Elkin spotted then-Gen. Dwight Eisenhower in downtown Chicago and did what any kid might do when coming face to face with the nation’s most famous soldier: She ...
Published: 06/17/18
1 dead, 20 injured in New Jersey arts festival shooting

1 dead, 20 injured in New Jersey arts festival shooting

TRENTON, N.J ó Shooting broke out at an all-night art festival in Trenton, New Jersey, early Sunday, sending people stampeding from the scene and leaving one suspect dead and 20 people injured, a local prosecutor said. Many of the 20 injured were tre...
Published: 06/17/18

spain600 migrants allowed off ships after rescueAbout 600 migrants disembarked from three ships Sunday in the port of Valencia, more than a week after they had been rescued at sea only to be turned away by Italy and Malta. Arriving separately, the Aq...
Updated: 4 hours ago

Lottery resultsNumbers drawn after 9 p.m. are no longer available by our deadlines. For results, please go to tampabay.com/lottery.Pick 2, 3, 4, 5Sun., June 17, midday:87 662 6806e_SRit48442Sun., June 17, evening:66 701 0866e_SRit27697Fantasy 5Sunday...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Gunfire erupts at festival; 22 hurt

Gunfire erupts at festival; 22 hurt

TRENTON, N.J. ó Gunmen opened fire at an all-night arts and music festival early Sunday morning, sending people running over each other in the scramble to safety, authorities said. One suspect was killed and 22 people, including two suspects, were in...
Updated: 5 hours ago